LAS VEGAS – Chandler Parsons believes there is one key Houston Rockets figure that played the biggest role in the franchise landing Dwight Howard in free agency.
"I think I had a big impact," Parsons said at USA Basketball's mini-camp. "The first thing he said at the press conference was that, 'You guys should thank Chandler Parsons because he is a big reason why I am here.'
"Obviously, he loves the team, [general manager] Daryl Morey, coach [Kevin] McHale and all that. But I think I just gave him that comfort that you got one of your boys here who is also a key part to the team, a young guy. And we can grow on this for a long time."
Parsons is an Orlando native and former University of Florida basketball player who originally met Howard while Howard starred with the Orlando Magic. The two became closer after Parsons switched to Howard's agent, Dan Fegan, in May. That connection sparked a fast friendship between Parsons and Howard, and eventually worked to the Rockets' benefit during the free-agency recruitment.
"I spent a lot of time during the summer in L.A.," Parsons said. "We kind of just hit it off. We literally would text every day. He'd call me at 8 p.m. with a question and then he'd call me at midnight with the same question. I respect the way he handled [his free agency]. He took his time and weighed all his options.
"I was just that guy trying to make him feel as comfortable as possible. We have very similar personalities. We are both outgoing. We're always smiling. We like to have fun. I made him really comfortable that he was not only coming to a really good team, but a team with his friends on it."
Howard described his lone season with the Los Angeles Lakers as a "nightmare."
Not long after the Lakers were swept by the San Antonio Spurs from the first round of the playoffs, Howard and Parsons joined Fegan and members of his agency at dinner in Hollywood. Howard began asking Parsons numerous questions about the Rockets. Parsons told Howard that playing with James Harden and the Rockets could be a perfect fit for him on and off the court.
"I told him how good I thought we could be," Parsons said. "If you add him with me, James and Jeremy [Lin], Omer Asik … [and] what better coach to play for than a top-50 NBA player of all time in McHale? With "Dream" [Hakeem Olajuwon], Yao [Ming] and Ralph [Sampson] and all these centers that had success in Houston, I think it was a no-brainer for him."
Parsons told Howard that playing for the Rockets was like playing for a "college team." And he told Howard that the Rockets would be a good playoff team without Howard, but great with him.
Before free agency even began, Parsons told friends he believed Howard would join the Rockets.
"I said I was 95 percent sure he was coming," Parsons said. "I was comfortable enough and I could tell the way he was talking to me and how he was excited about things in Houston that I was sure he was going to come."
Parsons was also a part of a large Rockets contingent that visited Howard in L.A. after free agency began July 1. Prior to the meeting, Parsons passed on some advice to Rockets management.
"I told them what they needed to prepare for with the pitch," Parsons said. "I told them what he thought about our team and what his concerns were. I was in the middle of Dwight and the Rockets, just kind of bringing them together."
Parsons was vacationing in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with his girlfriend and family on July 5, the day Howard made his decision.
"I saw a report that Dwight Howard was going to go to the Houston Rockets and he was leaving Aspen to tell the Lakers he was not going there," Parsons said. "So I was like, 'Cool.' I was hyped. I started running around and then I go to the beach.
"I come back, and then I saw on Twitter that sources say that 'Dwight Howard has changed his mind.' And I swear to God, a tropical storm hit Cabo as that happened. It was the worst day of my life. Then two hours later he told [Lakers GM] Mitch Kupchak he wasn't coming back."
Parsons said Lakers fans have had harsh words for him on Twitter and in L.A. since Howard signed with the Rockets.
"It's a circus," Parsons said. "Just from me recruiting him, my life has changed. I can't go anywhere now just from getting Dwight Howard to our team without someone saying something.
"It's going to be hostile environments [next season]. It's going to be rowdy.
"But that's what we play this game for. Those are the most exciting games. We're going to be the villain going to play different teams."
CSN video on Parsons' growth as a leader: