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Jabari Parker is grateful for this fresh start with Celtics

Jabari Parker dunks, to the delight of teammate Tristan Thompson, against the Bulls Monday night.
Jabari Parker dunks, to the delight of teammate Tristan Thompson, against the Bulls Monday night.Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

After being waived by the Kings March 25, Jabari Parker went home to Chicago to work out and focus on the next step in a once-promising career that had hit another roadblock.

“Really what’s kept me going is my faith in God,” Parker said. “Also, just not giving up. I remember my dad, when I was 6 years old, pulled me to the side when he saw me giving up on a play and I was walking off, and he told me after that to never give up.

“So that pretty much stuck with me, and I’ll never give up and I’ll always give myself a shot. And also the people in my family, my friends, have been able to keep me uplifted.”

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Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge reached out to Parker’s agent, Charles Tucker, and made it clear he had interest in the veteran forward, who was selected with the No. 2 pick of the 2014 NBA draft, and last Friday Parker signed a two-year deal with Boston.

“So, pretty much had to get here as soon as possible,” Parker said.

He was active for Saturday’s game against the Warriors and even played a substantial role in the win. He made 5 of 6 shots and had 11 points and 4 rebounds in 16 minutes.

“It’s always good to be on the court and, most importantly, just blessed to have good health,” Parker said. “So hopefully I can use this as a good learning experience, and just keep on the good habits that I look forward to keeping.”

Parker averaged 20.1 points per game for the Bucks in the 2016-17 season, but he has struggled to stay healthy during his career, with an injury history that includes a pair of torn ACLs. This season he appeared in just three games with Sacramento before being waived. Now, he is hopeful that this fresh start turns into something more lasting.

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“I’ve just been a fan of the Boston Celtics,” Parker said. “They just do things the right way, as far as like the teamwork, the hard work, and preparation. And hopefully I can be integrated and rub off on those guys as far as their work ethic and their habits.”

Missing pieces

Evan Fournier (COVID-19 protocol), Robert Williams (knee), Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker (non-COVID illnesses) all missed Monday’s game against the Bulls. Chicago was without All-Star guard Zach LaVine (COVID-19 protocol).

Fournier has now missed eight games in a row. Coach Brad Stevens said he is expected to get his final medical exam before being cleared in the next couple of days. He said that Fournier is unlikely to face the Suns Thursday, however. Stevens said that Williams will likely return against Phoenix.

Familiar faces return

Former Celtics center Daniel Theis and wing Javonte Green were at TD Garden for the first time since being traded to the Bulls March 25.

The Celtics traded Theis both to free up opportunity for Williams and to help them get below the luxury-tax line. But he was an essential piece of the team that came within two wins of the NBA Finals last season, and he turned into one of Stevens’s most trusted defenders.

Semi Ojeyele eyes the basket as former teammate Daniel Theis looks on during the third quarter of Monday's game.
Semi Ojeyele eyes the basket as former teammate Daniel Theis looks on during the third quarter of Monday's game.Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

“I thought that he was a big reason why we were defensively ranked where we were,” Stevens said. “I think that our defense has gotten better here, but we’re still learning to communicate as well as he did and direct as well as he does. He’s a guy that we miss, but I’m happy for him. He’s playing really well there.”

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Theis entered Monday averaging 9.5 points and 4.6 rebounds over nine games with the Bulls.

Stevens never got offer from Indiana

ESPN reported Saturday that Indiana University was prepared to offer Stevens a seven-year, $70 million contract to become its head coach. On Monday, Stevens said that he didn’t receive any offer, and that it wouldn’t have mattered if he did.

“I wasn’t going to leave anyways,” he said, “the reason being that this place, regardless of whether it was a pro organization or a college, has been so good to our family, so good to me, and we owe them, especially in the middle of a very trying time and a very trying season.

“It’s right in the middle of a pandemic. We owe them to stay the course.

“I don’t know how long I’m going to coach, I don’t know how long I’m going to coach in the NBA, or how long they’ll want me to coach in the NBA. I don’t know what I’ll do after that. Maybe I’ll figure out something new.

“But right now I’m thrilled to be the Celtics head coach. It’s a great challenge and a great responsibility.”


Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at adam.himmelsbach@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @adamhimmelsbach.