Why Chandler Parsons Is Worth Every Penny of Massive Contract Offer

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Why Chandler Parsons Is Worth Every Penny of Massive Contract Offer
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Chandler Parsons' reign as the NBA's best bargain contributor is quickly coming to an end.

A second-round pick in 2011, he has raked in just $2.6 million over his first three seasons in the league, per Basketball-Reference.com. His bank account is about to burst at the seams after signing a three-year, $46 million offer sheet with the Dallas Mavericks, as reported by Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski:

Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram shared the yearly breakdown of Parsons' new salary:

Parsons has never made even $1 million during a single season before. His new dramatically increased rate reeks of being overpaid. 

His stat sheet doesn't necessarily quiet those criticisms, either. Take a second look at his numbers and how they relate to the rest of the league, however, and those averages start to improve in front of your eyes, as Bleacher Report's Grant Hughes explained:

His basic stats—16.6 points, 4.0 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game in 2013-14—don't leap out as spectacular on first viewing, but they actually put him in rare company. Just six other players matched those totals last season, per Basketball-Reference.com: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Gordon Hayward and Michael Carter-Williams.

James, Durant and Love were all selected to the 2014 All-Star Game. Westbrook has participated in the midseason classic three times during his six-year career. Carter-Williams' production earned him Rookie of the Year honors. Hayward recently agreed to a four-year, $63 million offer sheet with the Charlotte Hornets.

Parsons' rate looks more reasonable by the second.

One thing that's important to remember here is value cannot be assessed in a vacuum. Contract comparisons matter. Team needs matter. The market matters. A record-high salary cap matters.

For Parsons, his iron has never been hotter. This is the perfect time for him to strike it rich.

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Last season, the 6'9" jack-of-all-trades enjoyed a career year. His points, assists and rebounds were all personal bests, as were his player efficiency rating (15.9) and win shares (7.6), via Basketball-Reference.

Not only is his game growing, but so too is the NBA's appreciation for his type of versatility. He has the right blend of size, speed and length to man either forward spot.

He's an asset at the 3—as a secondary playmaker, an off-ball cutter and team rebounder—and even more impactful as a stretch 4. The fact that he can seamlessly move between either position certainly helps his bank account.

The biggest lift for Parsons' wallet, though, may be his trusty three-point cannon. He might not have the consistency of the league's top snipers, but when he's feeling it, he can light the lamp as well as anyone.

Floor spacing is critical to succeeding in today's NBA. It's no small coincidence that the champion San Antonio Spurs paced the league in both regular-season and playoff three-point shooting (39.7 percent and 40.9 percent, respectively).

"Just about everyone in the NBA, from scouts to head coaches to GMs, understands that long 2-point shots are bad and 3s are good," Grantland's Zach Lowe wrote. "There is a strong correlation between 3-point attempts and team scoring efficiency."

The long ball does more than just tally an additional point on the scoreboard. The mere of threat of it forces defenses out to the perimeter, freeing up a dribble-penetration game already made easier by the league's restrictions on how much physical contact a defender is allowed to make.

No one needs to explain its importance to the Houston Rockets. They launched a league-high 26.6 triples per game last season.

Parsons' 37.0 percent conversion rate was the best of Houston's starters. For his shooting alone, he is a pivotal piece of the Rockets' puzzle.

That is, if he stays in Houston.

The Rockets had reportedly planned on matching his offer after getting Chris Bosh's signature on the dotted line, as Wojnarowski reported:

That option is now off the table.

Despite LeBron James' decision to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, via Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins, Bosh has opted to stay with the Miami Heat, according to Wojnarowski:

It's hard to guess Houston's next move.

A source previously told the Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen it "remains a close call" whether the Rockets would match the offer if Bosh was no longer part of the equation.

Whichever team locks up Parsons will be getting so much more than a shooter.

He was Houston's third-best setup man and fourth-best rebounder. Even with scoring removed from the equation, he was one of only nine players to average at least four assists and 5.5 boards in 2013-14.

That's what he has done on the court. Away from the floor, he played a pivotal role in the recruitment of Dwight Howard, efforts that essentially helped open the team's championship window.

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A source explained Parsons' involvement in bringing Howard to Space City to Forbes' Darren Heitner:

Chandler was relentless. [Chandler] called and texted [Dwight] every day, even face-timed and would answer every question Dwight could potentially have.  We would drive to his house in the hills and talk to him.  Basically Chandler Parsons recruited him like Nick Saban and a 5-star defensive tackle; they hardly knew each other at beginning of process.

Given that Houston's team-wide chemistry is still a work in progress, losing a glue guy like Parsons would be a crushing blow for what it is trying to build.

So, do all of the aforementioned elements—Parsons' adaptability, three-point stroke, production and intangibles—equal a $15 million-per-year player?

Maybe not in past summers, but with the way teams are spending this year? Absolutely.

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"The rising cap this year, the number of teams hording cap space and the increased number of teams looking to compete this year has significantly inflated the market compared to the last few post-lockout years when the cap remained relatively flat," Basketball Insiders' Nate Duncan observed.

Now, some could argue that reckless spending by one team does not justify outrageous investments by another, and there is some truth in that stance. If one franchise throws itself over a cliff, the rest should not follow.

However, that assumes this is an inflexible market. It acts on the belief that values cannot fluctuate.

We know that is not the case. Prices change by the minute once free-agent dominoes start to drop, as NBA.com's David Aldridge noted:

Look at the money that's been thrown at Parsons and Hayward. How much less does anyone expect forwards like Luol Deng and Trevor Ariza to take?

Ariza is reportedly looking for a salary as high as $11 million, per CBS Sports' Ken Berger. He's 29 years old with a forgettable resume (career 9.7 points on 43.4 percent shooting).

Parsons is four years younger, and his numbers have improved in each of his three NBA seasons. His ceiling has not been set, yet he's good enough right now for this rate in this market.

He might not do any certain thing great, but he does a lot of them well. For now, at least, teams are willing to pay a premium for that type of skill set.

Parsons is no longer a budget contributor, but he has earned every cent of the money he'll soon collect.

 

Unless otherwise noted, statistics used courtesy of Basketball-Reference and NBA.com.

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