Bulls notebook: Jabari Parker benched, Bobby Portis’ contract deadline approaches, update on Lauri Markkanen, and more

The Bulls put together their best defensive performance of the preseason Wednesday night, defeating the Indiana Pacers 104-89 in front of the home crowd. Bobby Portis, Zach Lavine, and Justin Holiday all scored over 20 to move the Bulls to 2-2 in the preseason.

Thomas Gibbons looks at the biggest news coming from Madison St. 

Fred Hoiberg made a lineup change ahead of Wednesday’s tilt, benching Jabari Parked for Bobby Portis. And reports are he was not happy with it. Can’t blame him right?

Parker started the preseason off on the right foot, but after two poor performances in Milwaukee and Charlotte, Hoiberg decided to switch up the lineup. That’s what the preseason is all about anyway. But Parker got a nice contract and we know he does not want to come off the bench.

” It would be a huge adjustment, Parker said if he were to be asked to come off the bench.   “But I just have to change with the times.” After Thursday’s contest, in which Parker scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds, he declined to talk with reporters.

I was a fan of the Parker signing. The Bulls did not lock themselves into a long-term deal and he fits into the rebuild, a young scorer who could find a role and earn an extension after the season. But consistency on both the offensive and defensive ends has been the story of Parker’s rough start in Chicago. His effort on the defensive end has to improve and shot selection has to be cleaned up. It’s too early to write him off, but the early returns are not promising.

The Bulls and Bobby Portis have until Monday to come to terms with a contract extension or they will have to wait until the summer to work on a deal. Portis will be a restricted free agent. Portis was on 670 the Score on Thursday and said there have been “good talks” with his group and the Bulls front office.

A 6th man of the year candidate, Portis has grown into a nice rotational player for the Bulls. A first-round pick in 2015, he exploded onto the scene last season averaging 13.2 points per game and shooting 36% from three. Portis plays with plenty of emotion and energy. He fits the Bulls long-term plans and a deal will get done either this weekend or this summer.

While Lauri Markkanen remains sidelined with a right elbow sprain, it has not stopped him from being on the court. In Wednesday’s shootaround, the Finnish star was sinking three’s with his left hand. What can this guy not do?

With Markkanen’s absence, Wendell Carter Jr. will step in and play big minutes at the power forward position. I think the Bulls best lineup is Kris Dunn, Zach Lavine, Justin Holiday, Carter Jr.,  and Robin Lopez given what we have seen this preseason. Portis is better off the bench for an extra lift and Parker can be a featured guy with the second group.

Zach LaVine has been explosive this preseason and is extremely confident in his game. He’s attacking the rim, making shots, and most importantly, looks more engaged on the defensive end.

The contract speaks for itself. The Bulls believe in LaVine and after a full offseason of work, Lavine is ready to showcase his game. I feel in tiptop shape, LaVine told the media on Thursday. ” I’m glad I put the work in this summer. I feel athletic. I can slash. I feel quick.”

Bulls fans got a glimpse of LaVine last season and are excited to see the 23-year-old take off this season. Not only does Dunn and Markkanen have to make strides in their game but LaVine is the centerpiece. He was the main player in the Jimmy Butler deal two summers ago and wants to be the guy. I’m excited to see him after a full offseason of work and get the Bulls on a winning path.

The Bulls announced Thursday night that former assistant coach Tex Winter passed away at the age of 96. Winter is credited with the teaching of the triangle offense that helped the Bulls win six championships. Former players Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant, and Pau Gasol took to Twitter and released statements on the Hall of Fame coach.

Pippen posted a great thread on Twitter:


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