Best Potential Free-Agent Landing Spots for Chandler Parsons This Offseason
The Houston Rockets aren't strangers to carefully planned free-agent attacks, and according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, declining the team option of Chandler Parsons might be the first step in a long process:
The Houston Rockets plan to decline the fourth-year option on forward Chandler Parsons' contract, freeing him to become a restricted free agent this summer, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The Rockets hold a $960,000 option on the fourth and final year of Parsons' contract for the 2014-'15 season, but want to avoid letting Parsons, 25, become an unrestricted free agent next summer. As a restricted free agent in July, the Rockets can match an offer sheet and retain Parsons on a long-term contract.
The Rockets have until June 30 to formally decline the option.
Parsons becoming a restricted free agent increases his trade value quite a bit, and it allows Houston to match any offer sheet he signs in free agency.
Still, the Rockets are running the risk of losing Parsons if the timing doesn't match up. If the Rockets can't acquire a third star like Carmelo Anthony or Kevin Love before Parsons signs an offer sheet in restricted free agency, they may have to choose between signing Parsons long-term and losing some of the ability to add a third star to Dwight Howard and James Harden, or simply letting Parsons go.
Parsons probably won't be a hot commodity if the Rockets manage to line up a deal for Love or Anthony before free agency, as most teams would assume the Rockets would match just about any offer and go into the tax.
If that's the case, here are five teams that would serve as good landing spots for Parsons in free agency.
Here's what Chandler Parsons told Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle about his contract earlier this season:
"My contract is four years," Parsons said. "I love being in Houston. I love playing with the Rockets. I think we have a chance to be really good. I don't worry about that. That's why I hired Dan Fegan. I think he's the best in the game. I know he'll do what he thinks is best for my career."
While the Rockets declining Parsons' tiny salary and team option for next year should be viewed as a definite positive by Parsons and Fegan, it also opens the door for Parsons to chase the money elsewhere.
If Fegan is advising Parsons on potential landing spots that could satisfy him financially and in terms of team fit, the Washington Wizards are probably going to head the list.
Fegan practically runs Washington, as he's the agent for John Wall, Nene, Martell Webster, Al Harrington and Drew Gooden.
With Trevor Ariza and Marcin Gortat both hitting unrestricted free agency, the Wizards will have cap room to play with should either decide to sign elsewhere. If Parsons and Fegan feel they're no longer welcome or the first priority in Houston, it wouldn't be a surprise if Parsons quickly signed a substantial offer sheet with the Wizards.
With John Wall and Bradley Beal in the backcourt and Parsons on the wing, Washington would be a serious contender in the Eastern Conference. Remember, Houston would still have to refuse to match, but this could be an interesting landing spot.
Very quietly, the Atlanta Hawks could be players in free agency once again. After most thought they'd sit last offseason out, the Hawks got the steal of the summer by signing Paul Millsap.
While Atlanta GM Danny Ferry won't have that luxury with Parsons, both in terms of value and the timing of the signing, he could throw a large offer at Parsons that might be tempting for him to sign right away.
Atlanta has a lot going for them, both in terms of talent and infrastructure. If healthy, Millsap and Al Horford should be one of the best 4-5 combos in the game. Jeff Teague just keeps getting better and better, and there are strong role players in place like Kyle Korver and DeMarre Carroll. The Hawks share the ball and shoot threes, which are two of the things Parsons does best.
Any team that signs Parsons to an offer sheet has to be under the impression that Houston won't match, so again, the timing has to line up just right here. Still, joining "Spurs East" should be plenty attractive to a player like Parsons, even if Atlanta hasn't traditionally been a big free-agent landing spot.
Speaking of styles of play that fit Parsons perfectly, how about the run-and-gun Phoenix Suns?
With Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe manning the backcourt, Parsons could fill in at the 3 or as a small-ball 4 in Phoenix's deadly transition game.
Parsons would have to make very few adjustments to what he does since it's all about slash-and-kick in Phoenix. By teaming up with players who are entering the primes of their careers, there would be little concern about the Suns falling off or not competing.
Since Bledsoe will also be a restricted free agent and take up much of the available cap room, Suns GM Ryan McDonough could technically sign Parsons to an offer first, then match or negotiate with Bledsoe afterward.
Phoenix should still have the cap room necessary (around $10 million) to go after Parsons even after Bledsoe signs, but that might not be enough to pry him away from Houston. There's some careful maneuvering to be done here, but Parsons makes plenty of sense in Phoenix.
Is there anything better than taking away one of an in-state rival's best players?
Keep an eye on the Dallas Mavericks to get involved in the fray for Parsons. With so much cap room and a likely need at small forward with Shawn Marion hitting free agency, Parsons could take an already explosive offense to the next level.
While there would certainly be defensive concerns with a team that regularly plays Jose Calderon, Monta Ellis, Parsons and Dirk Nowitzki, they'd also be pretty tough to stop. There also could be a bit of strategy at work here as well. By signing Parsons to an offer sheet and forcing Houston to match, it could potentially take the Rockets out of the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes, should he still be available.
With a limited number of true stars in free agency or on the trade market, Dallas will likely look into creative ways to eliminate market competitors however they can. Putting in a big offer on a team's restricted free agent is one way to do that.
This seems like a win-win for Dallas either way, so don't be surprised if they pop up in the talks for Parsons at some point.
If Parsons wants to join a team where he's given much more responsibility offensively, the Charlotte Hornets wouldn't be a bad destination.
Charlotte struggled to score this past season, but their defense was one of the best in the league thanks to first-year coach Steve Clifford and some solid defenders throughout the roster. In Parsons, Charlotte would be addressing a serious need, as he could function as an additional ball-handler while also running some pick-and-roll.
It's Parsons' versatility that makes him a good fit just about anywhere, really. His ability to play either forward spot and play either spot in pick-and-roll situations make him an awfully tough cover, and his level of athleticism and shooting ability are tough to find in the league.
Alongside Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson, Parsons would be an interesting third option who would undoubtedly be an upgrade offensively over Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and guys like Chris Douglas-Roberts.
Charlotte will once again have cap room this offseason, and with a need on the wing, this could be a decent destination for Parsons to end up.