When Boston Celtics forward Jabari Parker agreed to re-sign with the Celtics less than 24 hours before the start of the 2021-22 campaign, he knew securing a role for head coach Ime Udoka wouldn’t come easy and that nothing, including any playing time for him, was guaranteed.
Still, that thought didn’t deter Parker from wanting a new opportunity after being waived by Boston earlier this month.
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And, so far, in the early go, it appears he made the correct choice.
Jabari Parker on Re-Signing with Boston: ‘It’s The Journey That I Chose’
“It’s the journey that I chose,” Parker said Wednesday after morning shootaround. “So, I’m definitely very appreciative of the organization, my teammates always being supportive. Regardless of anything, I’m around good people. I’m around a team and I’m just grateful for the moment.”
When the Celtics were without starting forward Al Horford against the Hornets at Charlotte, Monday, Udoka leaned on Parker for offensive production and Jabari certainly didn’t disappoint. Shortly after checking in during the second quarter, he drained back-to-back 3-pointers on one end and made a defensive stop on the other.
Celtics’ Ime Udoka Tells Jabari Parker: ‘Be Prepared’
Parker finished with 13 points, including 3-of-4 from behind the 3-point arc, and five rebounds in 17 minutes. For the first time in the regular season, the Celtics head coach turned to Parker for help and the second overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft answered the call.
“He told me before the game just to be prepared,” Parker said after Wednesday morning shootaround. “But like every game, I’m always keeping that same mentality; staying ready because I love the game of basketball. So, I just do what I do.”
Hours later, after the Washington Wizards grabbed a 24-19 lead at the end of the opening frame, Udoka turned to Parker again to start the second quarter. Jabari provided another spark for Boston out of the gate.
However, with Horford back in the fold, Parker clocked in half the amount of playing time he received in contrast to Monday’s outing. Still, he finished with seven points on perfect 3-of-3 attempts from the floor, including one 3-pointer and one steal in nine minutes.
“Jabari played well last game and we wanted to go bigger when we took Grant (Williams) out,” Udoka said after Wednesday’s loss. “You have Dennis (Schroder) coming off the bench. He started the last few games and so we had Payton in the rotation there but with everybody back and healthy, he was a little limited tonight as far as that.”
Pritchard received a DNP for the night, and as he rode the bench the Celtics fell short against the Wizards 116-107 — which is their third loss in five tries.
Jabari Parker On Playing for 2021-22 Celtics: ‘Iron Sharpens Iron’
Earning opportunities early-on bodes well for Jabari’s chances of cementing a spot in Ime’s rotation for the long haul — which is exactly why Parker, as he explained Wednesday afternoon, chose to stick around and play for a winning franchise such as the Celtics.
“I knew that this was a winning team and iron sharpens iron so if anything, I’m going to get better here playing against the guys every day being around natural competitors and obviously get a chance to learn,” Parker explained. “So, this is just a great situation.”