Things aren’t going well for the Chicago Bulls at the moment. In addition to the team’s unsightly 6-22 overall record, the Bulls have lost 9 of 10 games and, in very public fashion, are experiencing some off-court trouble while transitioning from former head coach Fred Hoiberg to Jim Boylen. On Thursday, however, an on-court decision reportedly came to light and it is a very interesting one on a number of levels.
Malika Andrews of ESPN brings word that Jabari Parker, who inked a two-year contract worth $40 million in the summer of 2018, will be removed from Chicago’s rotation moving forward. To this point in the season, Parker has appeared in all 28 games and, while his counting stats (15.8 points, 7.1 rebounds per game) look promising, the former No. 2 overall pick has battled efficiency issues and major problems on the defensive end of the floor.
The report does indicate that Parker is expected to take the floor in Thursday’s game against the Orlando Magic, largely due to the illness-related absence of rookie Chandler Hutchison, but that would mark the end of his rotational run unless other changes occur. From a talent perspective, there is no question that Parker brings a lot to the table but, in the same breath, his lack of defensive aptitude can be brutal from a team-building perspective. Beyond that, it is difficult to off-set his one-way nature when, at the moment, Parker is posting a 52 percent true shooting and more turnovers than assists.
It remains to be seen as to whether Parker will rejoin the rotation at some point but, given the reporting here, it comes as no surprise that ESPN also indicates that a buyout “could become an increasing possibility closer to the trade deadline.” Though Parker’s deal covers two seasons, his $20 million salary for the 2019-20 season comes in the form of a team option and, considering this demotion in the pecking order, it would now be stunning if the Bulls were to exercise that (very expensive) option to keep Parker in the fold.
Chicago’s on-court issues this season go well beyond Jabari Parker but, after only one-third of the season and 28 games of a two-year contract, it appears his time as a meaningful contributor to the Bulls could be over.