With the Rockets potentially looking to make a big move for Kevin Love or another star player this summer, we are going to take a moment to take stock of what is in the cupboard for Daryl Morey to offer. We assessed Terrence Jones yesterday, and today, we're going to look at Chandler Parsons.
Wednesday, May 28th: Omer Asik
Thursday, May 29th: Jeremy Lin
Rest of series: TBA
Of all the players on the Rockets roster, the one most often brought up as a potential centerpiece of a blockbuster trade proposal is Parsons. He's only 25, has had a lot of success as a third option in the Rockets' offense, and is signed for a ridiculously cheap $964,750 for 2014-15.
But at what point does Parsons' value run out? He has just one year left on his current deal, and after that year, he could sign a big free agent deal elsewhere. Will a team take a risk on Parsons without knowing whether he will stay? Is Parsons worth the big deal he will likely command in free agency?
Parsons signed a four year deal when he was drafted in 2011, with the latter two years being team options. The Rockets have the option to extend his contract for one more year, making him an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season, or they could decline the option, making him a restricted free agent this summer.
What cannot be done, despite what many people have discussed on twitter and other media, is a trade of Parsons to another team, who decline the option and then let Parsons hit restricted free agency this summer, guaranteeing long term control. Such a scenario was floated by many who suggested the Rockets should make a deal for Kevin Love before the end of June so that the Timberwolves could control Parsons for more than just one season.
The CBA prohibits trades after the trade deadline for players whose contracts are set to expire at the end of the season. In order to trade Parsons, the Rockets must first pick up his option, giving him another year at $964,750. At the end of that year, Parsons will be an unrestricted free agent, free to sign with any team that he pleases.
It's for this reason that Parsons' trade value is not as high as many might hope. Anyone acquiring him gets a great value for a year, but they would be taking a big risk that he would want to leave after the season.
His Value as a Player
Parsons made steady improvements throughout his rookie and sophomore years, and seemed to settle into a role as a third fiddle offensively during last year. The question is whether he can continue to improve or did he plateau during his third season?
Parsons is not an especially gifted dribbler and he lacks lateral quickness, so it seems logical that he might have a ceiling of about 16 or 17 points per game. He was assisted on 64% of his makes, well above the league average, so even though he fits very well into a team offense, he is not creating a lot of offense on his own.
Still, his stats reflect a player who does nearly everything well without an obvious weakness on the offensive end. He's efficient, hitting 47% of his shots from the field and 37% from three point distance, he doesn't turn the ball over much, and is a pretty solid passer of the ball, netting 4 assists per game.
On the defensive end, Parsons has been a little hit or miss. During his rookie year, he seemed to thrive as the best defensive wing on the roster, earning minutes over Chase Budinger because of his ability to slow down wing players with his impressive length, but he has not improved since that rookie campaign. The Rockets were a better defensive team with Parsons on the bench this year, and tended to be fairly effective against him, scoring fairly easily against him.
Part of his defensive struggles have to do with his status as the default "stretch four" on the roster, the player tasked with guarding power forwards when the Rockets went small, but Parsons remained an average defender against opposing wings as well. With a greater offensive workload than he had his rookie year, Parsons has struggled to keep up with his man on the other side of the ball, and that will definitely put a dent in his value.
The Bottom Line
Like Jones before him, Chandler Parsons may have had his value somewhat inflated by Rockets fans. He is an excellent weapon and was undoubtedly the team's third most valuable player in 2013-14, but with just one year left on his contract and a lack of elite skills, Parsons is probably not going to net you a superstar back on his own. Could he land a lottery pick in this draft? Definitely. But the Timberwolves are not going to be beating down the Rockets' door to give away Kevin Love if Parsons is the headliner to such a deal.
At this point, Parsons' value may be higher to the Rockets than it would be to any other team. He fits the offense extremely well, is well-liked by both Harden and Howard, and the team could re-sign him to a big deal next summer without putting a dent in their cap space because of his miniscule cap hold before he signs a contract. Personally, I would be shocked to see anybody but Parsons starting at small forward on opening night next year.