The Mavs are rolling the dice by agreeing to terms with Rockets restricted free-agent small forward Chandler Parsons to an offer sheet for three years in excess of $45 million, as first reported by ESPN.com’s Marc Stein.
Dallas reached the agreement with Parsons, who averaged 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists last season, without knowing whether the Rockets would follow through on their vow to exercise their right to match any offer for the skilled small forward just entering his prime. The Rockets will have three days to make that decision after Parsons officially signs his offer Thursday.
The Mavs’ hope is that the timing of Houston’s pursuit of Chris Bosh, as well as the size of the offer sheet, causes the Rockets to reconsider their plan to keep Parsons at any cost. Letting Parsons leave would actually make it easier to get Bosh, at least as far as salary cap math goes, because it’d remove his $2.9 million cap hold.
According to a source close to the process, Dallas made the offer to Parsons with the belief that LeBron James would head back home to the Cleveland Cavaliers, leading Bosh to see Houston as his most attractive option. The Rockets have offered Bosh a max contract worth $88 million over four seasons, but Houston has some significant cost-cutting work to do to have that much room under the cap.
The best-case scenario for the Mavs is that they’ll acquire a talented 25-year-old whose game will blossom playing with Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis and Tyson Chandler. Parsons, a tremendous steal for the Rockets as a second-round pick, has steadily increased his scoring, rebounding and assist totals in each of his three seasons in the league. His ability to knock down 3-pointers and create off the dribble makes him a phenomenal fit for coach Rick Carlisle’s flow offense.
The worst-case scenario? After a three-day wait, the Rockets match the offer and Trevor Ariza and Luol Deng reach agreements with other teams. In that scenario, the Mavs would have to scramble to fill a hole in their starting lineup with the top two tiers of small forwards off the board.
It’s a risk the Mavs are willing to take, going all-in with a massive offer to Parsons.