Throughout his first four NBA seasons, former No. 2 pick Jabari Parker was hampered by injuries that caused him to miss significant time and may have had long-term effects on his overall effectiveness as a player. Parker still struggled with consistency when he was actually healthy, and amid the emergence of Giannis Antetokounmpo as one of the league’s premier talents, circumstances combined to hasten his exit from Milwaukee this summer.
But Parker’s trade to the Bulls was something of a homecoming for the Chicago native, who’s expressed his excitement about the opportunity for a fresh start with a team he’s been devoted to since he was a youngster. Still, Parker has admitted that there is some residual resentment toward the Bucks for how they handled his departure, and that will lead to some ambivalence when he returns to face his former team on Wednesday night for a preseason game in Milwaukee.
“[I made] some great memories being there, some great experiences, met some great people,” Parker said before Tuesday’s practice in the Advocate Center. “Pretty much bitter how it all ended, but most importantly, I had a sweeter moment being here. So that kind of like, I forgot all the bad memories I had with them.”
“I wasn’t planning on leaving so soon, especially like being there four years,” Parker said. “I love that group and all the training staff, medical staff. It just made it home. Every moment that I had, really involved in the community, was always out. But they went in a different direction, which I understand.”
Parker’s current two-year deal with the Bulls reportedly comes with a team option for the second year, which makes the coming season something of an audition for his future with the franchise. He drew criticism after his introductory press conference for making the rather salacious claim that the NBA doesn’t pay guys to play defense, which didn’t exactly cast him in the most complimentary light.
Still, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to shine early on as second-year forward Lauri Markkanen will be forced to miss up to two months after injuring his elbow in practice last week. At just 23, Parker is already battling perceptions about his durability and his commitment to becoming an all-around player, so he faces something of an uphill battle this season in Chicago as he tries to prove his skeptics wrong.