By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — When the Celtics brought in Jabari Parker late last week, it was not to take a quick look at the former No. 2 overall pick. The Celtics have made it clear that Parker is a project that they’ll be investing in through next season, and the early returns are promising for both sides.READ MORE: Celtics Facing A Play-In Reality After Yet Another Disappointing Loss
Parker was brought in late last week to fill out the end of the Boston roster. After barely playing for the Kings this season, he was seen as a potential project for Brad Stevens and company, a player worth investing some time in this season in the hopes that he could contribute next season.
That quickly proved to be a false assumption though, as Parker played 16 important minutes in Boston’s Saturday night victory over the Golden State Warriors. He scored 11 opportunistic points and pulled down four rebounds against Golden State, and followed that up with eight more points over 16 minutes in Monday night’s 102-96 loss to Chicago.
It’s surprising in that Parker hasn’t done much of anything over the last year. But in Boston, under Stevens, all players are given a chance to thrive. It’s up to them to take that opportunity and run with it. Thus far, Parker has done just that.
It has only been two games, but so far, Parker said it has been a great fit in Boston.
“Most importantly, I’ve just been a fan of the Boston Celtics. They just do things the right way, as far as like the teamwork, the hard work, and preparation,” the 26-year-old said ahead of Monday night’s loss. “Hopefully I can be integrated and rub off on those guys as far as their work ethic and their habits.”
Parker was the second overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks back in 2014, but his career has hit a few bumps along the way. He’s torn his ACL twice since coming into the NBA, and after spending his first four seasons with the Bucks, has bounced around to the Bulls, Hawks, Wizards and Kings. He was back in Sacramento this season after exercising his player option for $6.5 million, but fell out of Luke Walton’s lineup and played just 27 minutes over three games.READ MORE: Butler Strong Down Stretch, Heat Hold Off Celtics 130-124
He was waived by the Kings on March 25 and was working out in Chicago when his agent and Danny Ainge started discussing a potential landing spot in Boston.
“I had to get here as soon as possible,” said Parker.
A day after his deal was announced, he was playing some key minutes in an important victory for the Celtics.
“It’s always good to be out on the court and, more importantly, blessed to have good health. Hopefully I can use this as a good learning experience,” said Parker.
And just as happy as Parker is to be in Boston, the Celtics are just as happy to have him in the present and for the future.
“We saw it as an opportunity to not only sign a guy for the rest of the season but also next year,” Stevens said ahead of Monday night’s game. “We want to do our part to certainly make our team better and in certain situations and certain matchups, especially as the season wanes here. But also to help him get his groove back.
“I certainly have always been a fan of his game — we certainly all have,” added Stevens. “He’s a guy that can score, he’s a guy that’s got shiftiness in one-on-one matchups in the post and mid-post. He’s great on the baseline and there’s ways he has to improve to play in the most meaningful games and the most meaningful times. But he’s a good guy, good worker, he’s excited to be here, and we’re excited that he chose to come here.”MORE NEWS: LaVine, White Score 25 As Bulls Beat Celtics 121-99
Parker may never bring the impact that is expected from a No. 2 overall pick, but the Celtics don’t need that out of him at the moment. If the 26-year-old can continue to build on what he’s shown over two games, he could turn into a key part of the team’s rotation next season — if not sooner.