ESPN.com's Marc Stein first reported that, "The Dallas Mavericks and restricted free agent Chandler Parsons have agreed on a three-year deal worth in excess of $45 million, according to sources close to the process."
Per Stein, "Sources told ESPN.com that Parsons will sign the offer sheet Thursday, after which the Houston Rockets will have three days to match the offer or lose Parsons."
Stein also cites sources saying, "Parsons' deal is likely to possess a player option after the second season—which could make Parsons a free agent in the summer of 2016 alongside star Rockets center Dwight Howard—and a hefty trade kicker."
So now comes the interesting part.
According to Wojnarowski, "It is unclear whether the Rockets will match the offer, but Houston general manager Daryl Morey has had conversations with the agents for the three best unrestricted free agent forwards: Luol Deng, Trevor Ariza and Paul Pierce, sources said."
Each of those guys reasons to be a backup plan, but therein lies the question: Why would Morey need a backup plan if the organization was poised to match any offer for Parsons?
Then again, the Rockets probably weren't expecting the bidding to get quite this pricey. After making less than $1 million last season, all parties knew Parsons was in store for a raise—but this kind of raise?
It's bound to make a team with so many robust financial commitments explore its options.
Because Parsons is a restricted free agent, the ability to match Dallas' offer is the Rockets' prerogative. The only thing preventing them from doing so is their own wherewithal—in this instance, their willingness to pay a hefty amount of money to a 25-year-old who may never be a legitimate superstar.
For the record, Parsons is already very good.
The 6'9" small forward averaged 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and four assists last season. He's an efficient shooter, including from the perimeter, where he cashed in on 47 percent of his field-goal attempts. To any concern that the 2013-14 campaign was a one-year wonder, keep in mind that Parsons put up very similar numbers in 2012-13: 15.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
But thus far, he's remained a fundamentally complementary player.
That could very well remain the case in either Houston or Dallas, as both teams are equipped with primary scorers like James Harden and Dirk Nowitzki. But both teams also need a small forward, and the market for Deng, Ariza and Pierce could get out of hand.
Put in that perspective, spending big money on Parsons doesn't sound like such a bad idea. He's young and dependable. He's perfectly fine with being a second or third option. And—most importantly—he's a solid two-way player who can flat-out shoot.
It's worth taking a moment to compare Parsons' numbers from last season with those belonging to the other forward options Morey's reportedly exploring.
|Comparing Houston's Small-Forward Options in 2013-14|
So even if you don't believe Parsons is worth this much money in a vacuum, there's a strong case to be made that he's worth every penny in this particular case. With Plan Bs poised to be pricey in their own right, Houston might as well stick with a known and proven commodity.
The big variable in this conversation is Morey's intent to make a splash.
The Rockets could still theoretically sign Bosh and then match the Parsons offer (which would put them well over the cap), but Morey would have to work fast to make it happen. In the three days prior to matching Parsons' offer sheet, Houston would have to trade Jeremy Lin—to create cap space for Bosh—and then convince Bosh to sign, regardless of LeBron James' status.
That could potentially force Bosh into a difficult call pending James' own. As Broussard notes, "Bosh, since opting out of the final two years of his deal—worth $42 million—with the Miami Heat, had planned to see what LeBron James decided before making his choice."
He may not have the luxury of doing that depending on when James arrives at his decision.
While the Rockets could afford to keep Parsons while adding Bosh, the question is whether Parsons is the franchise's most cost-effective option. Keep in mind that landing both Parsons and Bosh would almost certainly place the team over the league's $76.8 million luxury tax line by the time an entire roster was assembled.
Morey has no doubt performed countless number crunches involving advanced analytics to determine whether that kind of investment is worth it. To whatever extent the organization may believe Parsons is now overpriced, there's probably some compelling data to support that conclusion.
But here's one thing that data won't include.
Corporate knowledge. The fact that Parsons is already familiar with Houston's system and that he's experienced plenty of success in that system. There won't be a learning curve for Parsons should he return.
There's also something to be said for the message sent with a vote of confidence. As much shuffling as this roster has undergone over the last couple of seasons, some continuity may do wonders for the team's collective self-confidence.
The Rockets are no doubt carefully analyzing their options and their bank accounts alike. And there's nothing wrong with doing due diligence and investigating all those Plan Bs.
But there's something oh-so-right about keeping the band together. Houston is coming off a strong season, stronger than its first-round ouster to the Portland Trail Blazers attests to.
Doing the right thing isn't always cheap.
It certainly won't be this time.
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