Parker returns to Chicago with Wizards
By Jay Cohen
AP Sports Writer
CHICAGO (AP) — Jabari Parker is focused on helping the Washington Wizards.
His rocky stint with his hometown Chicago Bulls is over.
Parker returned to Chicago on Saturday night just three days after he was traded to Washington in a multiplayer deal. The Wizards also got Bobby Portis and a protected 2023 second-round pick in exchange for Otto Porter Jr.
Parker made his Washington debut in a 119-106 victory over Cleveland on Friday night, finishing with seven points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in 23 1/2 minutes. He then traveled with the Wizards to Chicago for the opener of a four-game trip.
“I’m looking forward. That’s all I can do right now,” Parker said before the matchup with the Bulls. “That’s how I’ve been doing. Looking forward and keep improving. That’s where I’m at.”
It was a quick reunion for Parker, Portis and Porter with their old teams. Portis, who scored 30 points against the Cavs, was drafted by Chicago and spent his first three-plus seasons with the Bulls.
Porter had been with Washington for his entire NBA career. He played college ball at Georgetown before he was selected by the Wizards with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft.
Porter played in his first game with Chicago on Friday night, scoring 18 points in a 125-106 victory at Brooklyn.
“It was kind of weird,” he said before facing his old team. “You know, growing up, watching Michael Jordan play and being a fan of the Chicago Bulls, it was kind of weird. It still hasn’t hit me yet.”
Parker agreed to a $40 million, two-year contract with Chicago in July. The forward led Simeon Career Academy on Chicago’s South Side to four state championships, but his homecoming just didn’t work out.
The 23-year-old Parker appeared to be a bad fit for former coach Fred Hoiberg’s pace-and-space offense. After Hoiberg was fired and Jim Boylen took over, Parker was removed from Chicago’s rotation altogether for a short stretch.
Parker made just one appearance for the Bulls from Dec. 15 to Jan. 11.
Asked about how his relationship with Boylen changed after he was promoted, Parker called It “a total 180.”
“At that point, we never had controversy,” he said. “Always had his back with things we had in-house problems with, always had his back, always had everybody’s back. Just to see that relationship go sour not from my end but from his end was just bad because you trust the guy. He says all the things and I understand it’s his decision and whatever but it was just hard because the relationship we had going into when he was a head coach.”
Parker, who was selected by Milwaukee with the second pick in the 2014 draft, averaged 14.3 points and 6.2 rebounds in 39 games with lowly Chicago. Despite the lackluster results, Parker said he enjoyed his time with the team.
“I love my experience here because I met some great people,” he said. “I love my teammates.”