Chandler Parsons won’t be getting a free pass any longer

Chandler Parsons

The NBA is a business.

That much we know and it was confirmed again on Thursday when Rocket restricted free agent Chandler Parsons agreed to a three-year, $46 million deal with the rival Dallas Mavericks. The offer sheet was signed by Parsons at an Orlando nightclub with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban grinning by his side.

We talked on the podcast last week about the animosity the Mavericks have for the Rockets, and this manifested itself here as Cuban made the contract as unfriendly for Houston as possible. It was a full max offer for what Parsons could receive and included a player option after year two and a 15% trade kicker — both of which will make it more difficult to deal Chandler.

(For a reminder, including a “player option” is the reason Goran Dragic is not still with the Rockets)

Though it was reported that some sign-and-trade possibilities were discussed, the Rockets received the offer sheet this afternoon and the clock has started. Daryl Morey’s crew now has less than 72 hours left to trade Omer Asik (the Pelicans still don’t quite have enough cap room yet to make this deal) and unload Jeremy Lin and additional players, yet they remain handcuffed from getting started because they are still waiting on LeBron James to make his decision so Chris Bosh can make his. If the Rockets match Parsons’ contract before landing a Bosh or other significant free agent, the cap room plan is dead.

It’s a mess.

Is Parsons worth $15 million annually? Personally, no, I don’t think so and I say that as a big fan of his. He’s the team’s best three-point shooter among rotation players and brings the most intangibles to the squad. He’s also just 25 years old and could continue to rise, but… $15 million? The Rockets are all about “value” and that figure is a hair more than James Harden is making. Nicolas Batum ($11.8 million) and Paul Millsap ($9.5M) are a couple of better values that come to mind. I match this deal if I can answer this question in the affirmative — can I trade Parsons on this contract next summer as a positive-value asset?

Not an easy question.

Why the Rockets put themselves in this position is a tougher one. The security and control of restricted free agency is one thing, but if they had correctly predicted he would get the full max, this would not have made sense. The Rockets could have kept Chandler for one more year at less than a million dollars AND had more cap room to work with. They clearly made it harder on themselves. Obviously, it taking this long for superstars to decide was one thing the Rockets could not control, but there are a couple of theories I have as to why Rocket brass made this now head-scratching decision.

One, the Rockets possibly agreed to a plan and deal beforehand with Chandler to let him out of his contract only to get bam-Boozer-ed here, seeing greed and the free market destroy that plan. As soon as Gordon Hayward got his full max, you knew the price for Parsons had gone up.

Two, that letting Parsons out of his contract was a condition for landing Dwight Howard in 2013. That was wildly gossiped about even last summer. Both Parsons and Howard share the same agent in Dan Fegan and both players can now opt out of their contracts in the summer of 2016.

But while that is all speculation on my part, one thing’s for sure — whether it’s with the Mavericks or the Rockets, the days of Chandler Parsons getting a free pass are over.

The second-round pick and “best value in the league” is now with the big boys. He’s no longer a bargain and will be scrutinized and judged by fans based on the amount of resources he’s consuming.

Take a look at Jeremy Lin for a good example. As a bench guy with the Knicks making half a million dollars, Lin’s amazing and surprising production was extraordinary. Once Lin signed that three-year, $25 million deal with Houston, expectations soared and he couldn’t meet them. He’s now a negative value contract despite being a useful player in the league.

The same is about to happen to the view of Parsons. His production-to-compensation ratio is no longer through the roof. While time will tell if he can meet those expectations, there won’t be easy forgiveness for poor shooting nights, defensive apathy or losing your assignment on a superstar with 0.9 seconds left on the clock.

There already has been a backlash. Currently just over 60% of Houston fans polled do not want the Rockets to match the deal.

Yes, the NBA is a business and a night of partying with the enemy will be easily forgiven with time, but fans are more and more plugged in to how that business operates and that massive contract is going to change how they view Chandler Parsons moving forward.

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