For more than a week we’ve waited for something to go down in NBA free agency. Now, finally, the dominoes are starting to fall. Carmelo Anthony will likely return to New York and LeBron James is still mulling whether to stay in Miami or return to Cleveland. Obviously, everything during this free agency revolves around LeBron and what he decides to do. But, the Dallas Mavericks made some noise by signing Houston Rockets’ restricted free agent Chandler Parsons to a three year, $46 million dollar offer sheet. Houston has some options to consider:
- They can still match this offer and retain their young forward
- They can let Parsons go to Dallas and focus all energy on Bosh and Deng/Ariza (cheaper options)
- They can work out a Sign and Trade with the Mavericks so both teams could “win”
Option 3 is viable because the Mavs have not yet submitted their offer to the league. If they had, a sign and trade would not be possible. By discussing the situation with Houston both teams could essentially walk away happy. Regardless of the outcome, the Mavs have played it perfectly to this point.
The positives for the Mavs are obvious if they end up with Parsons. They fill their glaring hole at the small forward position with a 25-year old guy that already averages about 16 points per game and still has plenty of room to improve. It seems like Parsons would be a great fit with a team that already features Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis and Tyson Chandler. He isn’t a great defender, but his offensive game more than makes up for that. It’s not exactly the “big fish” that the Mavs have spent the last two years chasing, but it is a pretty darn good alternative.
It might seem steep for the Mavs to be paying Parsons $15 million a year, but this is the situation that restricted free agency puts teams in. Plus, the Mavs will flexibility again next summer because of Chandler’s expiring deal, and the deal is reportedly only for three years with a player option for year two.
It’s not like this completely handcuffs Dallas for the foreseeable future. But, it’s hard to look ahead too much because Houston can still match the offer sheet for Parsons. A lot of that hinges on where LeBron James decides to go play. If James elects to return to Cleveland, then that would open the door for Chris Bosh to take the max contract offer that he has from Houston.
Houston has made it clear they want Bosh AND Parsons, but doing so isn’t as easy as first thought. Even if Bosh doesn’t come to Houston, Daryl Morey and the rest of that front office are going to have to think long and hard about matching. That’s why a sign and trade seems like the most realistic possibility at this point.
LeBron is still taking his own sweet time to decide what he wants to do, and the longer he takes the more pressure it puts on Houston to decide what to do about Parsons. Remember, Parsons was a big part of getting Dwight Howard to Houston last year and the Rockets have been adamant that they would match any offer for him. But a few years ago, the New York Knicks said that they would match any offer on then restricted free agent Jeremy Lin. But Lin ended up with the Rockets after he signed an offer sheet that the Knicks decided they would rather not match.
Restricted free agents are tricky and are often paid more than they are worth, so it’s hard to really believe anything that’s initially said. Even if Houston ends up matching the offer for Parsons, the Mavs will have essentially eliminated all of the flexibility that the Rockets have to do anything. Dallas really has put Houston in a tough situation here and maybe the Rockets are better off going for a cheaper option at small forward such as Trevor Ariza if they decide they don’t want to pay $15 million a year for Parsons.
The only risk for the Mavs is that if the Rockets match the offer, their other options such as Ariza or Luol Deng might already be off the market. Again, it all depends on what LeBron does, but that could end up getting the Mavs into a lot of trouble. But Parsons seems like a risk worth taking.