When the Celtics waived Jabari Parker prior to the season, it appeared that his brief tenure with the team was over. But two days later, after Parker cleared waivers, he re-signed with Boston.
For the Celtics, the move made sense, because in the old deal, $1.1 million of Parker’s $2.3 million salary would have become fully guaranteed if he were on the roster on opening night, boosting the team’s luxury tax bill. But it was still an unusual route for the former No. 2 overall pick.
“I just knew it was the right place to be,” Parker said before Wednesday night’s game against the Wizards at TD Garden. “I knew that.
“This is a winning team, and iron sharpens iron, so if anything, I’m going to get better here playing against the guys every day, being around true competitors, and obviously get a chance for me to learn. So this is just a great situation just because I’m just grateful for it and I’m counting my blessings.”
On Monday, Parker came off the bench and registered 13 points and 5 rebounds in 17 minutes during a 140-129 overtime win over the Hornets in Charlotte. He connected on three of four 3-point attempts.
Parker said coach Ime Udoka told him before the game that he should be ready for an opportunity.
“But like every other game, I’m always keeping the same mentality,” Parker said. “Just staying ready, because I enjoy the game of basketball. So I just do what I do.”
Udoka has said he is focused on helping unlock Jayson Tatum’s skills as a playmaker, particularly as the All-Star forward faces constant double-teams. Tatum had 41 points and 8 assists in the Charlotte game.
“He’s been very receptive to what we’ve been talking about all year, passing the ball well in the preseason and in the early season, getting guys involved and picking his spots,” Udoka said. “So we move around a little bit so it’s harder to double-team him, especially end of game. But he’s doing great.”
Udoka said he believes Tatum can put up some eye-popping assist numbers this season.
“He’s a guy that I feel should get five-plus triple-doubles a year,” Udoka said. “He’s on pace for that with the way he’s moving the ball.”
Langford sits again
Celtics wing Romeo Langford missed his third consecutive game because of a calf strain. Udoka said Langford has been receiving treatment and that his condition has improved since the weekend.
“So hopefully it’s not a long-term thing,” Udoka said. “He got an MRI and it was nothing serious, so he’ll be back soon.”
Al Horford returned after missing one game because of an adductor strain.