Jannero Pargo to Sign With the Bulls


Jul 8

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Jannero Pargo is no Ben Gordon. But my guess is he thinks he is. So that might be good for the Bulls.

The Bulls and Pargo, who played for the Bulls for part of the 2003-04 season and the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons, agreed to a one year contract that will pay Pargo $1.99 million, the biannual exception for teams above the salary cap.

Pargo will probably sign in the next few days, sources said. The Bulls are expected to announce Thursday the signing of rookies James Johnson and Taj Gibson. Both are expected to get the maximum allowed under rookie contracts with Johnson starting at somewhat about $1.5 million and Gibson a bit more than $1 million. Johnson and Gibson thus will be ready for the team’s mini camp beginning Thursday night and then rookie league games in Las Vegas beginning July 14.

Pargo is expected to fill some of the scoring void created by the loss of Gordon to the Detroit Pistons as a free agent. He may even prove a better value per point. NBA sources say Gordon’s contract is closer to $11.8 million per year for five years at about $58 million.

Although Pargo averaged 6.4 points and 4.8 points in his two full seasons with the Bulls, he averaged 8.6 points combined in two seasons with the New Orleans Hornets as a reliable bench scorer and a popular teammate and fan favorite.

Pargo reluctantly left the NBA last season when the Hornets opted to sign James Posey instead and Pargo was left without a deal. He went to play in Russia, but had difficulty being paid and then moved to Greece in an overall unsuccessful season as Pargo averaged just 3.5 points per game in 11 games with Olympiacos. The Hornets were interested in resigning Pargo, but he elected to take the Bulls offer.

Although it was possible higher level free agents might have slipped through the cracks without offers and become available later in the summer, the Bulls apparently decided to go with Pargo as a solid scorer and big shot maker who was familiar with the team and a personality who would fit well off the court as well. The team is believed to have talked with several free agent guards, though most wanted more money than the $1.99 exception. Apparently, the Bulls decided not to risk losing one of the players they were interested in, like Pargo, while waiting for someone of perhaps a higher value to end up without a contract later in the summer.

Pargo’s greatest moment as a Bull was in the 2005 playoffs when he hit a trio of three pointers in the last minute, including one with five seconds left, to rally the Bulls back to a tie from a 10-point deficit in Game 5 before Gilbert Arenas hit the winner at the buzzer and the Bulls lost the series in Game 6 in Washington. Pargo averaged 10.4 per game in that playoff series.

Pargo is the classic streak shooter as games like that demonstrate. But he is not a particularly accurate shooter. His career shooting percentage is 39.5 percent and a more respectable 36.5 percent on threes. His career scoring average is 6.9 per game. He probably made his biggest mark in the 2008 playoffs with the Hornets when he averaged 10.2 points, though he shot just 38.8 percent.

Yes, that’s Pargo. When he gets the ball, it’s most likely being shot. Pargo averaged 2.1 assists in his career and 1.6 in playoff games. He’ll be a fourth guard for the Bulls behind Derrick Rose, John Salmons and Kirk Hinrich. Like Gordon, he’s primarily an undersized shooting guard at about six foot. But he can play some point guard.

Pargo is from Chicago and attended Robeson High School. It was a difficult trip to the NBA and he deserves credit for his patience and relentless pursuit of his goal. Pargo went to Neosho County Community College and then the U. of Arkansas for two years. He wasn’t drafted, but was signed by the Lakers for the 2002-03 season when the Lakers with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal lost in the semifinals. He was released by the Lakers the following season before the contract guarantee date in January, played briefly in the defunct ABA, was signed and released by the Toronto Raptors and then finished the season with the Bulls.

Pargo played two seasons with the Bulls in a limited role, playing in 32 games in the 2004-05 season and 57 games the following season. Pargo became a solid part of the developing Hornets team, playing in 162 games and averaging about 20 minutes per game. Pargo turns 30 just before the opening of training camp.

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