While the Bulls paying Jabari Parker a significant amount of money to then force him to play out of position had little chance of ever succeeding, one would’ve guessed the team would at least try to make it work.
In the opening months of the season, then head coach Fred Hoiberg had little interest in a trial of Parker at small forward. However, as a silver lining to the injury-ravaged lineup without Lauri Markkanen and Bobby Portis, Parker was allowed to settle into his natural position at the four.
Now, however, with both Markkanen and Portis back in the rotation and splitting minutes at power forward, current coach Jim Boylen has refused to even entertain the notion of using Parker. And so Chicago’s big free agent signing sits, exiled at the end of the bench, appearing in only six of the last 17 games, playing him a total of 116 minutes.
On some level, it’s legitimately surprising to think Bulls management have allowed this to happen given their grand intentions of prioritising Parker as the team’s three, though less surprising they’re eschewing responsibility by ‘keeping that in the past’.
After trading Justin Holiday, now Chandler Hutchison is the only natural small forward on the roster, which - even for staunch opponents of his signing like myself - makes Parker’s continued absence just more confounding. While Parker collects dust (and a huge cheque) on the fringes of the bench, we’re watching a second unit featuring Shaquille Harrison act as a makeshift forward.
The painstaking process of having to sit through every Bulls game waiting for the offensively inept group of reserves was likely the impetus for K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune to pen the notion of throwing Parker back into the rotation to kickstart that group.