Dallas Mavericks: Houston Rockets

DALLAS – New Dallas Mavericks small forward Chandler Parsons, the former second-round pick who just signed a three-year, $46 million deal, said he hasn’t “even scratched the surface of how good I can be.”

The Houston Rockets, his former team, weren’t willing to financially commit to Parsons as the third foundation piece on their roster. That bothers Parsons, 25, but he’s thrilled the Mavs are betting he will blossom in Dallas.

“A bigger role and more leadership in Dallas is really what I wanted and what I felt was best for me at this point in my career,” Parsons said Tuesday evening on a conference call with Dallas reporters. “I thought this was the perfect place for me to do it. With the current guys that they have here and the system that [Coach Rick Carlisle] has, I just think it’ll be perfect for the style of play that I have.

“I have nothing but love for Houston, but at the same time, I’m definitely excited for a bigger role in Dallas and to be that guy on the team who can hopefully be here for a long time and be a big building block going forward.”

Parsons didn’t back off his comments to Yahoo! Sports about feeling “offended” that the Rockets, who had the right to match the offer to their restricted free agent, did not consider Parsons worth the $46 million price if it meant sacrificing Houston’s flexibility to pursue another star. However, Parsons said he didn’t mean to sound “ungrateful or disrespected in any way.”

“I hope I didn’t hurt anybody’s feelings, and I hope there’s no hard feelings there, because I had a great time in Houston. I created a lot of memories there and have nothing but love and respect for the organization, the coaching staff and my teammates,” Parsons said. “But it’s just offensive when they’re publicly saying they don’t have a third star and they’re going after a third star when I was right there in front of them.”

Parsons said the Rockets’ front office “really did me a solid” by declining the team option to pay him $965,000 for the final season of his rookie contract. That made Parsons a restricted free agent this summer instead of an unrestricted free agent in 2015.

Houston expected to match any offer for Parsons, but the Rockets didn’t anticipate him getting a near-max contract. The Rockets still intended to match keep Parsons, but Houston’s plans changed after they failed to sign All-Star power forward Chris Bosh, a development that surprised the franchise.

Houston general manager Daryl Morey has said he had doubts the Rockets could contend for a title with Parsons locked into an “untradable” contract.

The Dallas decision-makers did what they deemed necessary to acquire an ascending talent. Parsons has increased his scoring, rebounding and assist totals each season he has been in the league. He averaged 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists for a 54-win Houston team last season that got eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

The Mavs paid a premium rate for Parsons’ promise, aggressively recruiting an impact player whose arrow is going up. The Dallas brass expects Parsons to flourish as a point-forward type in their flow offense and sees ample room for further growth in his game.

Parsons shares those visions, to say the least.

“I’m a very confident guy,” Parsons said. “That’s the big reason why I wanted to come to Dallas, because they do view me as that guy.”

Rockets give Chandler Parsons motivation

July, 15, 2014
Jul 15
10:50
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The Houston Rockets did Chandler Parsons two huge favors this summer.

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.

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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.

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Nelson: 'Overpaid' for Parsons' promise

July, 14, 2014
Jul 14
4:39
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Chandler Parsons fills up a box score like few others in the NBA, joining LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kevin Love as the league’s lone players last season to average at least 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists while shooting better than 45 percent from the floor.

But the Mavs’ favorite Parsons number doesn’t appear in the box score. It’s his age, 25.

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“That was a huge part of this, the age factor,” Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said. “He's a young player that's already kind of established in the league. It was really the perfect storm for us. It was the opportunity to get not only a high-caliber here-and-now player that can help us win playoff games. Here's a guy that is 25 and will continually get better.”

Parsons’ presence gives the Mavs a proven major foundation piece who has yet to enter his prime, something Dallas hasn’t seen since Jason Terry’s arrival from Atlanta.

The Mavs paid a premium price for Parsons -- $46 million over three seasons, making him the highest-paid player on the Mavs’ roster. The Mavs decided they’d rather spend $15-plus million per year on Parsons than $10 million or so on Luol Deng or Trevor Ariza, then held their breath when those fallback options signed with other teams before the Rockets’ declined their right to match Parsons’ offer sheet.

Truth be told, the Mavs pegged Parsons’ value at more like $12 million per year. The Mavs went higher than that to make the offer as hard as possible for Houston to match, pleased to pay extra for promise of an ascending talent.

“We did overpay by a little, but that was the spirit of which it was needed to be done,” Nelson said.

That’s the value of the Dirk Nowitzki discount deal. With Nowitzki underpaid by at least $6-8 million per year, the Mavs could afford to be as aggressive as necessary to get Parsons.
Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey referred to Chandler Parsons’ three-year, $46 million deal as “one of the most untradeable” NBA contracts he’s ever seen.

Consider that a kind of twisted compliment to the Mavericks’ front office that signed the restricted free-agent small forward to the offer sheet the Rockets ultimately declined to match, allowing Parsons to leave for Dallas.

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The contract was designed to be as difficult as possible for Houston to match. That’s why it includes a 15-percent trade kicker and a player option for the third season. Had Parsons returned to Houston, which declined a team option to pay him $965,000 next season to make him available in restricted free agency, the Rockets also could not have traded him without his permission this season due to restricted free agency rules.

Houston would not have been able to bid on a star free agent next summer with center Dwight Howard, shooting guard James Harden and Parsons combining to count more than $53 million against the Rockets’ salary cap. Morey opted to replace Parsons with a less expensive option, signing small forward Trevor Ariza to a four-year, $32 million deal, and maintain the Rockets’ flexibility in the future.

“The Mavericks are a smart organization,” Morey said on SportsTalk 790 AM in Houston. “They obviously wanted to get him. That structure of that [contract] is literally one of the most untradeable structures that I’ve ever seen. That’s why it came down to a bet of Harden, Howard and Parsons being the final piece, because we would have had no ability to do anything after that. And Harden, Howard, Parsons could have been good enough. I think Parsons is a tremendous player and is going to keep getting better.

“The question is, is it better with that core or is it better with Ariza plus the hundreds of moves that might be able to upgrade us in the other scenario. And there’s really no moving -- that core was going to be the core that we had to have, because if we ever wanted to move off and go after the other stars, if we ever wanted to go after a different core, it wasn’t going to be possible. A small-market team that might want a Chandler, he can opt out and leave, so they wouldn’t want him. A big-market team that’s planning for free agency, maybe for the elite free agents coming up in the future, he can opt in. There’s a trade bonus in there. Even if the cap is going to go up likely, we’re just guessing likely significantly in the future, his trade bonus makes his contract go up in lockstep with that.

“I’ve seen some speculation, OK, that we could just do this and just move on to something else if it didn’t work. The reality is that we couldn’t. This would have been our team. That would have been the team that we had and we had to be on bet on. We had to bet on that team or all the multitude of options we could have generated in the other scenario.”

Morey had publicly vowed to match any offer for Parsons before the Mavs called the Rockets' bluff, a big bet that paid off for Dallas.

Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson doesn't know if there's such a thing as an untradeable contract in the NBA, but he isn't trying to prove Morey wrong in this case.

"First of all, we're not looking to trade Chandler Parsons," Nelson said later Monday on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. "Flat out, we want him to be here for a long, long time. In terms of the tradeability, e've had some pretty interesting contracts in the past and were able to get off of them, so I think there's no such thing as an untradeable contract. Clearly that's not the spirit of what we're doing. We're really excited and not looking to move Chandler Parsons at all."

Mavs' dice roll pays off with Parsons

July, 13, 2014
Jul 13
5:30
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The Dallas Mavericks’ front office can exhale now.

Its extremely risky roll of the dice did not come up snake eyes. Restricted free agent small forward Chandler Parsons is officially a member of the Mavericks after the Houston Rockets declined their right to match the three-year, $46 million offer sheet to him.

[+] EnlargeChandler Parsons
Troy Taormina/USA TODAY SportsThe Rockets had vowed to match any offer for Chandler Parsons, but fortunately for the Mavs changed their tune after missing out on All-Star power forward Chris Bosh.
At more than $15 million per year, the Mavs are overpaying for Parsons, but they are happy to do it, a luxury afforded by Dirk Nowitzki accepting a major hometown discount on his soon-to-be-official deal for three years in the neighborhood of $30 million. Other than proven superstars LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, the Dallas decision-makers considered Parsons to be by far the best option in this free-agency class to fill their need at small forward.

The Mavs bid high on Parsons, whose deal is just shy of a max contract, because they wanted to call Houston’s bluff as boldly as possible. The Rockets had vowed to match any offer for Parsons -- who would have been paid $965,000 next season if Houston didn’t decline the team option for the last year of his rookie deal -- but changed their plans after missing out on All-Star power forward Chris Bosh in free agency.

There was certainly some luck involved in the Dallas front office's success. The Mavs signed Parsons to the big offer sheet believing LeBron James would go to Cleveland, a domino that would cause Bosh to head to Houston. The Mavs' hope was that the Rockets would wince at paying the luxury tax, prompting them to let Parsons leave.

Well, that's not how it all turned out.

Dallas was right about the LeBron domino, but had the Rockets signed Bosh, they'd have kept Parsons as part of arguably the NBA's best starting five next season. Without Bosh, Houston general manager Daryl Morey apparently couldn't stomach the thought of sacrificing future cap flexibility to match the massive offer to the Rockets' third-best player.

So the Mavs' logic didn't end up being right, but they love the result.

Houston agreeing to a four-year, $32 million deal with small forward Trevor Ariza on Saturday was a good sign for the Mavs, but they still expected to hold their breath up until the 10:59 CT Sunday deadline. Houston let the Mavs off the hook about six hours earlier, informing Parsons that he wouldn’t be returning to the Rockets.

By that point, Dallas didn’t have a fallback plan it wanted. Ariza, Luol Deng (Miami Heat) and Paul Pierce (Washington Wizards) all signed elsewhere over the previous 24 hours or so. With all due respect to Shawn Marion, the Mavs wanted to move on from the 36-year-old as their starting small forward. Signing Lance Stephenson would have been an act of desperation for a front office that considered him untouchable due to character concerns when free agency opened.

The Mavs don’t have to worry about any of that now.

They didn’t accomplish their long-standing goal of signing a big fish, but they have hope that the 6-foot-9, skilled, versatile Parsons can grow into a star after averaging 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists in his third NBA season. He’s a proven player with a lot of promise, giving the Mavs a foundation piece whose best basketball is to come.

For the Mavs, that makes Parsons well worth the price, especially after the rest of the board was picked clean.
The Houston Rockets have a sound replacement plan if they decide not to match the Mavericks’ big bid for Chandler Parsons.

That doesn’t necessarily pave Parsons’ road to Dallas, however. It just guarantees that perhaps the Mavs' preferred fallback target is gone with the Rockets signing Trevor Ariza to a four-year, $32 million deal.

Sources close to the situation tell ESPN’s Marc Stein that the Rockets are still weighing whether to exercise their right to match Parsons’ three-year, $46 million offer sheet from the Mavs. The Dallas front office definitely does not expect its Interstate 45 rivals to do it the favor of tipping their hand until the 10:59 p.m. Sunday deadline.

If the Rockets let Parsons leave, they can plug Ariza into their starting lineup and pocket as much as $7 million in cap space for next season, depending on how Houston fills out its thin bench. A sum that large could be the difference in being bidders in the potential Kevin Love sweepstakes, if the All-Star power forward doesn’t get traded to a destination he likes first.

Houston’s breathless pursuit of Chris Bosh illustrated how much general manager Daryl Morey values a stretch 4, a perfect complement to max-salary stars Dwight Howard and James Harden. Love, who rebounds like Moses Malone and shoots like Dirk Nowitzki, is the best stretch 4 in the business at the moment.

All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo is another 2015 free agent who could be worth Houston's saving up to sign him to a max deal next summer.

If the Rockets hang on to Parsons, he could theoretically form a small-ball forward tandem with Ariza, although neither player is built to bang with physical power forwards. Houston also has a pair of power forwards on rookie deals -- returning starter Terrence Jones and rotation player Donatas Motiejunas -- on the roster.

It’s up to the Rockets to decide whether clogging their cap with Parsons is worth it. All the Mavs can do is wait until the last minute of Sunday night to find out whether they must pluck through market’s the leftovers at small forward.
Now what will Daryl Morey do?

The Houston Rockets were willing to step into luxury-tax territory to exercise their right to keep Chandler Parsons if they were first able to sign Chris Bosh to a near-max deal. That scenario is off the table, however, after Bosh's decision to take more money to stay in Miami.

Will the Rockets still match the Dallas Mavericks' three-year, $46 million offer to the restricted free-agent small forward? At this point, the only sure thing is that we will find out by 10:59 p.m. CT Sunday night.

The Rockets were willing to pay a steep price for Parsons if they succeeded in their offseason mission to add a stretch-shooting All-Star power forward to complement their current stars, shooting guard James Harden and center Dwight Howard. But that plan was messed up when Houston missed out on Bosh.

Maybe Morey, the Rockets' ultra-aggressive general manager, will decide to keep the core of Houston's 54-win team from last season together. Perhaps he'll swallow hard and agree to pay Parsons more than $15 million per year, knowing that would take the Rockets out of the Kevin Love sweepstakes if there is one next summer.

This certainly isn't the decision Morey thought he'd have to make this summer.

First, Morey couldn't have anticipated Parsons signing such a massive offer sheet when the Rockets made him a restricted free agent by declining the team option to pay him $965,000 next season in the final year of the former second-round pick's rookie contract. Mark Cuban and the Mavs threw a major wrench in the Rockets' plans by getting Parsons to agree to a near-max offer as soon as a deal could be signed.

Morey also believed he'd have a premier stretch-shooting power forward in place -- a perfect fit with Harden and Howard -- before the clock ran out on the Rockets' right to match Parsons. Pat Riley and the Heat threw a wrench into those plans by making Bosh a lot richer.

The Mavs and Heat, two-time Finals foes, formed a tag team of sorts to make Morey's job as hard as possible this summer.

How will Morey respond? Stay tuned.

The LeBron domino's impact on Dallas

July, 11, 2014
Jul 11
11:50
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LeBron JamesAP Images/Mark DuncanLeBron James will return to wearing his original No. 23 for the Cavaliers in 2014-15.
The biggest NBA domino has fallen with LeBron James’ lowercase decision to return to Cleveland.

That’s exactly what the Dallas Mavericks expected to happen when they made their decision to sign Houston Rockets restricted free agent Chandler Parsons to a three-year, $46 million offer sheet. The ripples of James’ departure from Miami are expected to cause Chris Bosh to head to Houston.

The Rockets have offered Bosh a max contract of $88 million over four years, but it’s impossible for Houston to sign him to that deal unless they let Parsons leave or pull off an extremely complicated sign-and-trade deal. That’s even if the Rockets get rid of every single player on the roster other than Dwight Howard and James Harden before the 11 p.m. CT deadline Sunday night to match the Mavs’ offer to Parsons.

Houston simply does not have the cap space to squeeze a max deal for Bosh along with the max deals for Howard and Harden with Parsons’ $2.9 million cap hold on the books.

Could the Rockets convince Bosh to sign for slightly less than the max? Sure, that’s possible, but Houston general manager Daryl Morey would still need to make several salary-dump deals to be in position to sign Bosh and keep Parsons.

And Rockets owner Leslie Alexander would have to agree to step into luxury-tax territory with four eight-figure salaries in the starting lineup and the rest of the roster to fill out.

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Chandler ParsonsGeorge Bridges/MCT/Getty ImagesDallas' offer sheet to Chandler Parsons further intensifies the rivalry between the Mavs and Rockets.
This Chandler Parsons offer sheet is business for the Dallas Mavericks, but if Mark Cuban is being honest, it’s also personal.

Cuban might never admit this publicly, but he’s surely taking great pleasure in forcing Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey to scramble.

There is mutual respect between the front offices in Dallas and Houston, two franchises that have been at the forefront of the NBA’s analytics revolution, with tech-geek Cuban and MIT-educated Morey leading the way. There is also a pretty intense rivalry brewing between those front offices and particularly the two men who are accustomed to being the smartest guy in the room.

Remember that text message Morey sent Cuban last summer inquiring about a deal for Dirk Nowitzki? Cuban took it as a taunt after Dwight Howard declined overtures from Dallas and others to head to Houston. Morey later claimed that it was a panicked plea when he momentarily thought the Rockets didn’t win the Dwight sweepstakes. Sure.

What about the leaks this summer that the Rockets would love to pay Nowitzki like a superstar? Dirk’s intention to give the Mavs a massive hometown discount had been on the record for a full year.

Of course, Cuban is far from an innocent victim in all of this. His recruiting pitch to Howard took shots at the Rockets, such as referencing the fact that Houston has won a grand total of one playoff series in the last decade and a half, contrasting that to the championship culture the Mavs have created. You can bet that got back to Morey.

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What will Mavs do if Rockets match?

July, 10, 2014
Jul 10
4:01
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DALLAS – What would the Dallas Mavericks do if the Houston Rockets exercise their right to match the three-year, $45-plus-million offer to Chandler Parsons?

The short answer: Keep searching for a starting small forward.

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“I tell you, we’ve got a lot of greaseboards in that office up there with lots of different scenarios,” Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said. “I can’t tell you which scenario is going pan out, but one of them is going to pan out. We will have a small forward with the Mavericks next year. Guaranteed.”

The Mavs will stay in contact with the agents of Trevor Ariza and Luol Deng, the two unrestricted free agents on Dallas’ Plan B tier of small forwards. They’ll also keep in touch with the representatives of Plan C small forwards Paul Pierce and Shawn Marion. Same with Lance Stephenson and so on.

Of course, the agents for those players will actively pursue deals with other teams during the three-day timetable the Rockets have to make their decision on Parsons. There are several teams in the market for small forwards, so there is a chance the market could be picked pretty thin by Sunday night.

Maybe the Mavs, with no leverage, are left to look through the leftovers Monday. The Dallas decision-makers will hope for the best with the Parsons situation and do everything possible to prepare to avoid the worst if that doesn't work out.

“We have some pretty good ones in the mix now, too,” Nelson said. “Our worst-case scenario is give young Jae Crowder an opportunity.”

UPDATE: Rockets receive offer sheet

July, 10, 2014
Jul 10
12:10
PM CT
UPDATE: A source confirmed that the Rockets received the offer sheet from the Mavs on Thursday afternoon after sign-and-trade discussions did not progress. The three-day clock begins at 11 p.m. CT Thursday night.

DALLAS -- Maybe the Mavericks won’t have to wait three days to learn whether Chandler Parsons is coming to Dallas.

The Mavs are willing to work with the Rockets to skip the whole process of Houston deciding whether to exercise the right to match the three-year, $45-plus-million offer sheet signed by their restricted free agent.

Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said Dallas is open to discussing sign-and-trade scenarios with the Rockets. The Mavs have yet to officially submit the offer sheet but will do so before midnight if a deal can’t be worked out with the Rockets.

“There’s communication because there’s sign-and-trade possibilities,” Nelson said. “There’s ways that both sides can win, so it’s just an ongoing process.”

No matter what time the Mavs officially submit the offer sheet today, the Rockets would have until Sunday night to decide whether to match.

Overpaying Parsons makes sense for Mavs

July, 10, 2014
Jul 10
8:21
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By no means did the Dallas Mavericks enter the summer planning to pay more than $15 million per year to a small forward who has never played in an All-Star Game.

[+] EnlargeChandler Parsons
George Bridges/MCT/Getty ImagesBy signing Chandler Parsons to a $45 million offer sheet, the Mavs have set up a difficult decision for the Rockets.
A strong argument can be made that Chandler Parsons will be overpaid while earning more than $45 million over the next three seasons, the value of the offer sheet the restricted free agent signed Wednesday night. But making the deal so big was a calculated business move by owner Mark Cuban and the Mavs.

Simply put, the Mavs wanted to make it as painful as possible for the Houston Rockets to exercise their right to match the offer to Parsons, the promising, productive small forward who is just entering his prime at 25.

As detailed by dallasbasketball.com, the Mavs have thrown a major wrench into the rival Rockets' offseason plans. The offer sheet to Parsons, along with the max salaries of Dwight Howard and James Harden, makes it practically impossible for Houston to execute the one-two punch of signing Chris Bosh to a max deal and keeping Parsons, even if the Rockets shed the salaries of every other player on the roster.

Houston general manager Daryl Morey has been forced into making difficult decisions the next few days. Does he scramble to dump salaries, attempt to talk Bosh into taking a less-than-max deal, and enter luxury-tax territory by matching the offer to Parsons? Does Morey swallow hard and pay Parsons much more than the Rockets planned while keeping their bargain-priced role players, sacrificing the ability to make a major addition to the core of a team that failed to get out of the first round of the playoffs?

These can't be the kinds of decisions Morey saw coming when he declined the option to pay Parsons $965,000 next season, a move the Rockets' front office surely regrets right now.

Maybe Morey believed that having the restricted tag on Parsons, who would have been an unrestricted free agent next summer if he completed his rookie deal, would depress his value in the open market. It had the opposite effect, as was the case with Utah Jazz small forward Gordon Hayward, who signed a four-year, $63 million offer sheet with the Charlotte Hornets.

Morey clearly hoped that Parsons would play ball with the Rockets, waiting until Houston had taken care of its other major business before cashing in with a big contract. However, Parsons obviously felt the need to put pressure on the Rockets to get paid as much as possible.

If the Mavs are being honest, they'll admit that Parsons will be overpaid, no matter the market trend. They pegged the Plan B tier of small forwards in free agency -- Parsons, Hayward, Trevor Ariza and Luol Deng -- as a group whose value ranged from $8 million to $12 million per year.

Parson was the Mavs' preferred target among the Plan Bs, but they had to go big if they were going to roll the dice on a restricted free agent who fits in the plans of his current team. The asking prices of Ariza and Deng are higher than the Mavs' perceived value of those players, so Dallas was going to have to bid higher than they hoped to get any small forward in that tier. If that's the case, it makes the most sense to do so with Parsons, whose arrow is going up after averaging career highs of 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists last season.

The hometown-discount deal of Dirk Nowitzki gives the Mavs the luxury of overpaying to upgrade at small forward. Nowitzki's new three-year deal will pay him in the neighborhood of $10 million per season, a number the Rockets would double in a heartbeat if they could get their hands on the sweetest-shooting 7-footer in NBA history.

Parsons at $15 million per year? That's an awfully steep price.

A Nowitzki-Parsons forward pair at $25 million per year? That's an awesome value.

Parsons signs, parties with Cuban

July, 10, 2014
Jul 10
7:39
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Chandler Parsons signed the Mavericks’ offer sheet and celebrated with friends, family and his billionaire buddy, Mavs owner Mark Cuban.

Parsons inked the three-year deal worth more than $45 million early Thursday morning at a club near his Florida home and then proceeded to party with Cuban and the rest of the crew.



Cuban shared several photos with Mavs fans via his messaging app Cyber Dust. Parsons’ friends and family also posted photos on Twitter.

The Houston Rockets can spoil Cuban’s fun by exercising their right to match the offer for the restricted free agent within the allotted three days. But Parsons will be paid more than $15 million per year regardless, which is certainly reason to celebrate after being a six-figure bargain his first few seasons in the NBA.

Mavs go all-in on Chandler Parsons

July, 9, 2014
Jul 9
6:22
PM CT
The Dallas Mavericks have called the Houston Rockets’ bluff.

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.

The problem with Chandler Parsons

July, 8, 2014
Jul 8
10:29
AM CT
ParsonsAndrew Richardson/USA TODAY SportsChandler Parsons averaged 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists for the Rockets last season.
Chandler Parsons isn’t the big fish the Dallas Mavericks have been trying to hook for a few years, but the promising, productive small forward would still be a heck of a catch.

The arrow is going up for Parsons. At 25, he’s just entering his prime. His scoring, rebounding and assist totals have increased in each of his three NBA seasons, averaging 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists as the Houston Rockets’ third offensive option last season. And he just happens to be pals with Dirk Nowitzki, having played in the Mavs star’s charity baseball game in the past.

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Discuss (Total votes: 14,261)

The 6-foot-9 Parsons makes perfect sense for the Mavs, other than that pesky restricted free-agent tag.

The Mavs are seriously considering attempting to sign Parsons to an offer sheet regardless of the circumstances. It becomes an easy decision for Dallas if Chris Bosh accepts Houston’s offer of a max contract, which could cause Rockets management to shy away from committing to a fourth eight-figure salary on the roster and stepping into luxury-tax territory.

If the Miami dominoes don’t fall by July 10, when deals can be officially signed, the Mavs might be able to force Houston’s hand into deciding whether to keep Parsons or continue their Bosh pursuit.

What if Houston matches the Mavs’ offer within the three-day span allowed by the CBA? No blood, no foul? Not necessarily.

The worst-case scenario is that the Rockets take the full three days to match an offer to Parsons and Dallas’ other Plan B and C targets go to other teams during that time, leaving the Mavs picking through the leftovers to fill their need for a starting small forward.

Is gambling on Parsons worth the risk of being left in the middle of the sea with a big hole in the boat?

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsS. Marion 6.5
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksB. Wright 0.9