- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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First, the Rockets exposed Parsons to restricted free agency, allowing the small forward to test the market instead of exercising the team option to pay him six figures in the final season of his rookie contract. That move, the biggest mistake of the NBA offseason, ultimately resulted in Parsons getting a 1,500 percent raise from the Dallas Mavericks.
As a parting gift, Houston general manager Daryl Morey made sure that Parsons still had plenty of motivational fodder after cashing in with a three-year, $46 million deal.
Morey’s message got through to Parsons loud and clear: The Rockets don’t consider him to be good enough to be the third-best player on a championship contender. The Rockets would rather have hope of landing a proven superstar such as Rajon Rondo or Kevin Love than Parsons clogging their salary cap.
That’s why the Rockets declined their right to match the offer from the Mavs, who admittedly bid a bit higher than Parsons’ market value to maximize their chances of getting a 25-year-old small forward who fits so well in coach Rick Carlisle’s flow offense.
The Mavs are betting that Parsons will keep getting better after averaging 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game for a 54-win, first-round-exiting team last season. He has improved in each of those categories in each of his three NBA seasons after suffering the indignity of slipping to the second round despite being the SEC player of the year.
The draft disrespect fueled Parsons for the past few years, and he has proved without a doubt that he is a quality NBA starter and was a tremendous steal in the second round.
Now, Parsons plans to prove that he is a star worth the massive paychecks he will cash over the next few years.
That offer sheet was far too rich for the Rockets to match as they search for a star to complement James Harden and Dwight Howard. Morey loved Parsons as a bargain-bin role player, just not as a high-priced foundation piece.
That guarantees that Parsons will pack a heck of a chip on his shoulder as he heads up Interstate 45 with his pockets full.