Give Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey this: He's honest and unafraid of costing his team money.
Morey held court with Rockets season-ticket holders, during which time he whipped out his crystal ball and predicted that Chandler Parsons was going to be rewarded handsomely for his services.
With Chandler, we have an interesting decision. At the end of this year, we can turn down his option. People wonder why, because it’s so cheap, but then he’d be a restricted free agent. Or he can go through his fourth year and be an unrestricted free agent. There are advantages to each, so it’s something we’ll continue to talk about.
He’s going to make a lot of money on his next contract. We don’t know how much. But we’re committed to keeping him.
The decision Morey references is in regard to Parsons' contract.
The former second-round draft pick is earning under $1 million this year. At season's end, the Rockets can exercise a team option worth, once again, under $1 million that allows them to retain the 25-year-old.
Seems like a no-brainer since Parsons is currently averaging 17.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game, right?
Not so fast.
Exercising that team option means Parsons will become an unrestricted free agent in 2015; declining it means he will become a restricted free agent this summer. In restricted free agency, the Rockets have the right to match any offer sheet Parsons signs. Unrestricted free agency gives them no such power, increasing the likelihood they would have to pay him more or lose him entirely.
Why pick up the option, then, if Morey says Houston wants to keep Parsons? Flexibility.
With all team and player options factored in, the Rockets have just over $63.2 million on their books for next season. Keeping Parsons for under $1 million makes it easier for them to create cap space by way of salary dump(s) and chase another impact free agent. Then, in 2015, they would hope to re-sign Parsons to a core stronger than the one they have now.
It's all very complicated and presumably financially driven.
Losing Parsons doesn't appear to be an option, but there's no telling what could happen between now and 2015 should Houston decide to let him explore unrestricted free agency. The decision is ultimately Houston's, and Morey can rest easy knowing that Parsons doesn't seem opposed to waiting one more year for another contract if he has to.
"It’s a little frustrating seeing all these guys," Parsons said of earning so little, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, "but what I’m making right now is still a lot of money to me."
What he makes next will seem like, and easily be, much, much more.
Whenever "next" is.
*Salary information courtesy of ShamSports.