Jabari Parker’s Comments On Defense After Signing $40 Million Contract Should Terrify Bulls

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty Images)

The Bulls took a risk in throwing money at Jabari Parker.

He can score, but his health is rare. And the former Bucks forward has displayed one of the more indifferent attitudes toward defense in the league.

“Zach [LaVine] and Jabari analytically, defensively, have been below average,” Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson told 670 The Score on Tuesday. “They’re super talented. They’re super athletic. They can learn that end. They can get better at that end.”

A day after Paxson’s interview, Parker addressed his defense on the same show.

His comments were hardly encouraging.

“I don’t know,” the 23-year-old said when asked if he can be a good defender. “I just stick to my strengths. Look at everybody in the league — they don’t pay players to play defense. 

“I’m not gonna say that I won’t, but to say that’s a weakness is like saying that’s everybody’s weakness. I’ve scored 30s and 20s off of guys who say they try to play defense.”

Uhhh, what?

“Certain guys have a (scoring) average, and no matter what you do they still get that average,” he said. “They pay people to score the ball, and I would hope that somebody scores the ball on me if they paid them that much.”

It might shock Parker to learn that Andre Roberson and Marcus Smart — elite defenders who are pretty hopeless on offense — each have far larger contracts than he does.

Most frustratingly: Parker has shown flashes on defense, most notably in Game 4 of Milwaukee’s playoff series against the Celtics.

It’s not that he can’t defend. He chooses not to.

Not a great sign for someone you could pay $40 million.

Fortunately for Chicago, they’re protected by a team option on the second year of his deal. So if his stance on defense doesn’t change and he can’t compensate on the offensive end, or if he’s not healthy enough to contribute, he’ll once again be looking for a contract.

And no matter what deal he gets next, he’ll still be paid less than a lot of “guys who say they try to play defense.”