Jabari Parker looked comfortable Saturday night in his new role with the Celtics, writes Sean T. McGuire of NESN. Playing in his first game since joining the team, Parker scored 11 points in 16 minutes and was on the court for several crucial possessions in a win over the Warriors.
The output was more than he scored all season with the Kings before being waived last month. The second overall pick in the 2014 draft, Parker is only 26 and now has an opportunity to establish himself as a scorer off the bench in Boston. His new contract has two guarantee dates for next season if he can stay on the roster.
“We just told him to go out there and play as hard as he can everything else will fall in,” Marcus Smart said. “He did very well. We were definitely ecstatic with the way that he came out, not really knowing the system and just playing basketball, being a basketball player. So, once he gets more involved into the plays and learning everything else will kind of mesh in well. But for his first time out there, he played very well, and we’re proud of him.”
There’s more from Boston:
- With six straight wins and a healthier roster, the Celtics look like a threat to the top teams in the East, states Mark Medina of USA Today. Injuries and illness have forced the team to go through long stretches without Smart, Kemba Walker and Tristan Thompson, but all three are contributing as the team heads into the final four weeks of the regular season. “The No. 1 reason for our little run is we’ve been, for the most part, healthier,” coach Brad Stevens said. “We just missed lot of guys earlier. I know that sounds like an excuse. I hope it doesn’t. But we tried to stay afloat as well as we could and hope we get to a time where we’re a little bit healthier and put together some weeks of good basketball.”
- Boston could get another boost this week with the return of Evan Fournier, who has been in the league’s health and safety protocols and hasn’t played since April 4, Medina adds. The Celtics acquired Fournier at the trade deadline to provide another scorer, but he only appeared in four games before entering the protocols.
- Indiana University would have offered Stevens a seven-year, $70MM contract to take over as head coach, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (video link from Charlie Clifford of WISH-TV in Indianapolis). Stevens said last month that he has no intention of returning to college basketball.