Parker is lackluster as a reserve
Hoiberg’s changes work, but Jabari struggles
But will it stick?
Only coach Fred Hoiberg can answer that question, and he has some time to make a final decision.
Fresh off back-to-back dismal performances against Milwaukee and Charlotte, Hoiberg and his coaching staff went back to the lab to try to reinvent a stagnant offense and an uninspired defense.
What they concocted was on display in the Bulls’ 104-89 victory Wednesday against the Pacers at the United Center.
Zach LaVine and Justin Holiday led the Bulls with 22 points apiece.
It was a positive showing on many fronts unless your name is Jabari Parker.
Parker again was less than stellar. He scored 11 points on 4-for-12 shooting in an unfamiliar role off the bench, not the usual spot for the No. 2 overall pick from the 2014 draft whom the Bulls lavished a two-year, $40 million contract on.
“We just want to try some new combinations,’’ Hoiberg said of the change. “We’re obviously still in the preseason; we’ve got [days] left to experiment with some different lineups out there.’’
Parker’s feelings about the role remain unknown, especially because he was one of the first players out of the locker room and declined to speak to the media.
Hoiberg, however, issued a warning to his team at the beginning of camp that starting spots would have to be won through competition. Before the victory over Indiana, Parker wasn’t exactly grabbing that spot — especially with the absence of Lauri Markkanen (right elbow) — shooting a combined 4-for-23 in the previous two losses and 13-for-49 (26.5 percent) for the preseason.
“Nothing is set in stone right now,’’ Hoiberg said. “This is just an experiment to see if it gets us getting out and playing better just with different combinations. That’s all it is. Nothing more, nothing less.’’
Besides Parker being benched, Hoiberg inserted Bobby Portis into the Parker vacancy and started 19-year-old rookie Wendell Carter Jr. over veteran center Robin Lopez.
“You know, you got to roll with what happens in this league, so I’m going to do what I can with the second unit,’’ Lopez said.
Hoiberg did address the moves with Parker and Lopez before the game and said both players seemed to take the news well.
“I’ve had conversations with everybody that will be affected by the change in the lineup,’’ Hoiberg said.
“The biggest thing you want out of the gate is great energy. If you’re going to make a mistake, you want to do it with effort. If you turn it over, you have to react to it and get back defensively.’’
Both the starters and newlook reserves seemed to do that against the Pacers, especially the part about “great energy’’ out of the gate, as that first unit outscored the Pacers 34-17 in the first quarter.
But the million-dollar question — or possibly the $20 million question — is, does Hoiberg keep Parker in a bench role?
The Bulls (2-2) wrap up the preseason Friday, but they have until the Oct. 18 regular-season opener in Philadelphia to finalize the rotations.
That’s a lot of scrimmages and practice time between now and then to get a better sample size and decide if Parker’s homecoming will be as a bench player.
Jabari Parker shot 4-for-12 and scored 11 points off the bench Wednesday night against the Pacers.