The Houston Rockets haven’t struck out yet, there is always the chance that LeBron James does return to northern Ohio and that the Rox can nab Chris Bosh in the wake of that decision, but this is as uneasy as the franchise has felt in years. Chandler Parsons made that happen, the result of the Rockets taking a calculated gamble that showed a lack of recognition of just how heavily a player’s market this is.
Don’t tell that “player’s market” crap to LeBron, who will never make his true market value per year, or Dwyane Wade, who is set to give back tens of millions of dollars for the betterment of his team’s roster. Don’t tell that to Bosh, who will also give back money wherever he goes, or to Carmelo Anthony, who will rightfully ridiculed for choosing money over winning when he decides to stay in New York.
The rest of the NBA? They’re feeling this. They’re feeling Jodie Meeks’ contract, and they’re going to enjoy the subsequent bidding war for Luol Deng and Trevor Ariza. They’re going to revel in Gordon Hayward’s maximum extension, and the eventual obscene money thrown at Eric Bledsoe even after a pair of meniscus surgeries.
And the rest of the NBA’s players are really going to feel Chandler Parsons deciding not to turn down for what, in bro’ing into a restricted offer sheet with the Dallas Mavericks early Thursday morning:
That’s a three-year, $46 million deal for a player that has yet to make an All-Star team, or even earn over $1 million a season.
In this market, Parsons is worth it. He is an athletic scoring swingman who is a few years away from his prime, one that hits for the league average from behind the three-point arc. The Mavericks have whiffed badly despite sound financial and basketball planning in three straight offseasons, and in forcing Houston’s hand they have tipped the NBA’s offseason significantly. Those oft-cited dominos won’t fall as significantly as the ones left quaking when LeBron and Carmelo make their eventual decisions, but this turns Houston’s summer on its ear.
Despite the pen to paper, as of Thursday afternoon Houston has yet to receive Dallas’ actual offer sheet. Once (and if) the team receives it Houston will have 72 hours to decide whether or not to match the offer or let Parsons go to Dallas, and Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the two sides are discussing sign and trade options.
Houston’s enemy is both time, and a salary cap that came in slightly lower than expected on Thursday.
The solid-for-both-sides deal that the Rockets and New Orleans agreed to prior to the NBA draft, potentially sending Omer Asik to the Pelicans for a future first round draft pick, doesn’t exactly fit as planned due to the cap dipping a bit (NOLA does not have enough space to fit Asik under their cap, as of Thursday), and Houston may need to take back another player to work the trade over. With just hundreds of thousands of dollars getting in the way of Houston being able to offer Chris Bosh a maximum contract, every little bit hurts.
With so much up in the air, there’s a wonder if Philadelphia feels as if a future low-rung first round pick is worth paying Jeremy Lin nearly $15 million for. Lin can be traded to the Sixers, who as always have scads of cap room at their disposal, and Lin “only” counts for $8.4 million against the salary cap; but that’s still a hefty price to explain away to ownership all for the price of a draft pick in the (likely) low 20s that can be bought for one-fifth as much on draft night.
This is where Houston and Dallas can help each other out.
Dallas has cap space, even after dealing for Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton, which means they are an easy team to work with. They also have Raymond Felton on their team, which means they will need to find a point guard soon. The Rockets don’t want to lose Parsons, as the team is in danger of turning into the top-heavy mess that the Miami Heat are attempting not to be right now, but with the potential 72 hour deadline looming and Philadelphia getting cold feet on a Lin salary dump, tossing Jeremy Lin Dallas’ way in concert with Parsons could help both sides get what they want.
For Dallas, that’s a chance to win now while Dirk Nowitzki still has some All-Star left in him. For Houston, it’s once again cashing in on what used to feel like an unending stream of assets. That collection of picks, players and salary cap maneuverability already paid off in James Harden and Dwight Howard. Now Rocket general manager Daryl Morey is looking to send off the last vestiges of his hoarding (Asik, and Lin) for the space to go after Bosh.
Bosh has played deep into June in four consecutive seasons, and he turned 30 last spring, but he just worked through what should have been his NBA prime while having to scrounge for scraps in a LeBron and Dwyane Wade-heavy Miami offense. This isn’t to diminish the work and effort that Bosh has put in since joining the Heat in 2010, at this point he still remains underrated, but those wheels should have plenty of spring left in him, and his game figures to age well should his long range touch remain true. As a pick and pop floor-spacer with a terrific defensive presence, he comes straight out of central casting for Houston.
He also has a family that probably wants nothing to do with moving, and he also likes playing with LeBron James. While the Mavs and Rockets discuss myriad options with Parsons’ contract – one that would have to be thrown in the shredder were they to figure out a sign and trade scenario, even though Chandler would still agree to the same amount per year while possibly adding another year – the Rockets are still stuck in the same boat as the rest of the league. They’re waiting on LeBron James to make the biggest decision of his career.
Once James hits? Then the player’s market commences.
Perhaps Houston didn’t anticipate this. More than likely, they knew this was coming all along, and there wasn’t a damn thing they could do about it.
UPDATE: Houston? You're on the clock:
Dallas delivered Chandler Parsons' $46M sheet to Houston, ending sign-and-trade talks, source tells Yahoo. Rockets have three days to match.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 10, 2014
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