After a slow (recovering) start to the 2015-16 season, this coming spring will be the turning point for Chandler Parsons’ career.
It was the summer of 2014 and the Houston Rockets had set their sights on another eventful offseason with the hope of landing a third super star to their team. They were tied to all of the big names on the free agent market, but more in particular to a guy in south beach by the name of Chris Bosh.
While Bosh and Houston seemed like a destined conclusion, Houston had one of their own young studs waiting in the background of free agency, testing the waters and waiting for Houston to make their decisions.
Chandler Parsons was selected in the second round of the 2011 draft by the Rockets and had quickly risen up the depth chart into the starting small forward spot. His three-point stroke and playmaking ability provided the Rockets a secondary option on the wing behind James Harden for what many assumed the next many years to come.
Entering the summer of 2014, the then 25 year-old Parsons had come off back-to-back seasons where he averaged near 15 ppg and 5 rpg, while logging over 33 minutes a night. Parsons seemed to be another gem found in the second round, but had to wait his turn in free agency while Houston chased after Chris Bosh.
Sep 28, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons (25) poses for a photo during Media Day at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
While the Rockets anxiously waited for Bosh to make his decision, Parsons couldn’t put his young career on the line any longer. The Dallas Mavericks came knocking, and Parsons answered the door. Parsons signed a 3-year, $46-million dollar deal (with an opt out after 2 years) with the Mavericks in a move that sent shock waves around the league.
Since Parsons was a restricted free agent, many questions started to circulate. Does Houston match and give up on Bosh? Are the Mavericks over paying? Can Houston let him walk for nothing? Can Houston get Bosh to commit in three days so they could match the offer sheet for Parsons?
As you know, the plan back fired on the Houston Rockets. They opted to not match the high offer sheet for Parsons with the hopes of landing Bosh. Bosh eventually decided to stay in Miami on a max deal leaving the Rockets losing out on both players.
The Dallas Mavericks had their next guy.
Rumors were flying everywhere on how Parsons and Cuban were partying the night his contract became official. People were already asking the question on if he was going to be the next face of the franchise for the Mavericks. The Mavericks finally landed a young stud in free agency, but most people around the league felt it was a steep price.
Fast forwarding through his start in Dallas, Parsons had a mediocre first year in Dallas that resulted in a mysterious knee injury and a first round exit in the playoffs to Houston in which he played just one game. Parsons found himself entering the 2015-16 season with uncertainty, hope, and a lot of expectations.
With over a quarter of the season in the books, the same three things surround Parsons. There is still uncertainty surrounding his recovering knee and minute restrictions. There is big expectations surrounding his play during his limited 20 minutes a game and still a hope in Dallas that Parsons can recover fully and be the next face of the franchise.
A few weeks ago, Parsons told Tim MacMahon of ESPN…
“My real season starts in January”
The only problem with this statement is that the Dallas Mavericks season started in October.
Since then, the Mavericks are currently tied for the 5th spot in the Western Conference with a 13-10 record on the season. An impressive start for a team that was counted out by many before the season even started.
The Mavericks have been carried by the continuous offense of Dirk Nowitzki, the rejuvenated Deron Williams, and a center by the name of Zaza Pachulia that is playing the best ball of his career. The Mavs have also been helped by the play of Raymond Felton as he has stepped into the starting lineup for Parsons and carried the team on some nights.
But even through all of these impressive aspects surrounding the start to this year, it seems to be clear that the Mavericks are not in that top-tier of teams in the league. Their offense is streaky and consistency has taken a hit while they seem to be missing a big piece of the puzzle.
“The spring of 2016 will be the defining moment of Parsons’ career so far.”
A piece that could put them into the contending category of teams.
A healthy and improved Chandler Parsons.
So with Parsons’ self proclaimed season starting in January, we will see a good Mavericks team that is looking to become great with the return of their starting small forward who just happens to have an opt-out clause in his contract at the end of the year.
It is for this reason, the spring of 2016 will be the defining moment of Parsons’ career so far.
So what are the best and worst case scenarios of Parsons’ spring?
Nov 18, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons (25) shoots a free throw against the Boston Celtics in the second quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Worst Case Scenario
Let’s start with the worst case scenario for Parsons’ important spring.
Parsons could come back in January and continue the rough play that he has been experiencing through his limited minutes in the first half of the season or he doesn’t fully heal at all and returns back to figuring out his injury. He doesn’t make the jump in improvement that many people have predicted and thus cause difficulties on how to play him.
If he returns and struggles, Carlisle could entertain going back to Felton in the starting unit with Parsons returning to the sixth man role due to the success to start the season without Parsons.
If the Mavs make the playoffs, they could very likely face a first round exit similar to last year.
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Parsons would most likely face a difficult decision in the offseason on if he wants to come back. If he opts-out, could he even get more money on the open market then what he would make if he opted into the final year?
Obviously this is the worst case scenario and a scenario we all hope does not come true.
Best Case Scenario
The real season official starts for Parsons and the Dallas Mavericks in January.
Parsons comes back at full strength to his normal starting role and minutes. His penetration ability and three-point shot brings the Mavs an all-around offensive game that the team has lacked from the start of the season.
Parsons makes the expected jump that many fans have wanted where he propels himself into a top 8 small forward in the league.
This impressive play from Parsons propels the Mavs to the next level where they finish as a top 4 team in the Western Conference with home court advantage in the first round. The Mavs make a deeper playoff run and Parsons proves he is a cornerstone in the Mavericks future.
Parsons enters the offseason where he opts-out and either resigns for a larger deal with the Mavs…or finds greener pastures elsewhere on a hefty contract.
This would be the best case scenario that all of Dallas is begging to see.
So who is Chandler Parsons? Will he lead the Mavs to a deep playoff run? Will he recover completely from his mysterious knee injury? Will he make the expected jump in improving his game? How will his spring impact his contract status?
All the answers to these questions will be answered by the end of April…or June.