With only three seasons under his belt Chandler Parsons is the longest tenured member of the Daryl Morey spun turnstile that is the Houston Rockets. Only a day remains for the Rockets to decide Parsons' fate. No matter what the Rockets decide, Parsons has not betrayed the Rockets and the Rockets did not betray him.
A team without Chandler just isn't as fun. Chandler is our Dwight Howard recruiting, karate bow inducing, stubble sporting, jeans modelling, corn dog downing, shave his head to inspire a sick child, trendsetting, heart stealing small forward. He's our guy.
The only reason you could rationally hate Chandler comes from Derek Zoolander: "Really, really, really, ridiculously good looking."
This isn't a betrayal, it's business.
$45 Million For Three Years
That's a big number. The type of number that likely made Daryl Morey flip over a chessboard or throw a Magic The Gathering deck in the garbage. We were expecting for Chandler to get paid, but this number is the product of two developments:
Teams have cap space. Teams like the Mavericks stockpiled flexibility and cap space in anticipation of trying to sign a max free agent. That's decidedly not in the cards for the Mavericks right now. Melo, LeBron and Bosh never gave Dallas a serious note of consideration. Meld that fact with the new pay cut Dirk Nowitzki took to support the team's long term health and the rise in the salary cap. Teams have money to spend and cap space does you no good in the middle of a playoff race. The ability to acquire expiring contracts (cough, Asik) and the expected and anticipated continued rise in the salary cap make a deal like this plausible.
Gordon Hayward. Four years and $63 million to the league's other top caliber restricted free agent swingman. Time will tell, but an argument can be made that Parsons benefits from the Rockets high octane offense and the attention delivered to James Harden. Perhaps Hayward is the better player. Either way, the Hayward contract offer sent a giant dollar sign bat signal... Parsons was going to get paid. Don't forget, the Mavericks once gave Erick Dampier 7 years and $73 million because of a league-wide big man shortage.
That's how much the Rockets have paid Parsons over three years.
If the $15 million a year offer had come from the Rockets we could all rationalize it as money owed for services rendered. Morey struck gold when he signed Parsons to a four year deal for less than a million a year. The contract was such a value that Parsons requested a raise twice.
We all know Parsons has been an absolute value. If we had laded a max free agent and knew the Parsons contract was going to take the Rockets past the luxury tax using Bird Rights, then why wouldn't he get a little extra as a show of good faith for the years he proved himself for next to nothing (by NBA standards, which are not real). Especially if there was a wink wink agreement between Parsons and Morey to avoid any offer sheets until the Rockets were able to land a big fish.
Furthermore, we know Parsons is a Morey player. He has a high true shooting percentage, hits open threes and fits the high octane offense. But the thing we won't realize for a few years -- Parsons may be a Morey player mostly because of his contrast and relative value. Luol Deng at $15 million or Andre Iguodala at $12 million are not Morey players. Perhaps we're going to discover that Parsons at $15 million is not a Morey player.
Players Can't Trust Morey
Chandler Parsons has had 41 different teammates in three seasons. Nearly everyone he has played with has been dealt, dropped, D-Leagued or used as trade bait. Parsons knows better than anyone that Rockets players are expendable.
Even if there's a behind the scenes Parsons-Morey agreement that doesn't mean Parsons is going to get what he wants. If anything, the Rockets signing Carmelo without Parsons having a signed offer sheet gives the Rockets leverage. They can come to him with a lower than anticipated offer and ask him to take a pay cut to help find a backup center or point guard. Chandler, thanks for sacrificing the last two years, mind doing it for another four?
OR -- If the Rockets had landed Melo with no Parsons offer sheet they could easily decide to let Parsons walk as they owe him the equivalent of two role players. If you've got the big three then convince Ariza and roleplayer X to join the team for the cost of Parsons.
Few people could argue that Parsons was out of line to sign the offer sheet. The entire league was waiting on LeBron and doing that wasn't getting Parsons any closer to getting paid. He was right to put some pressure on. Everyday a Hayward, Ariza or Deng signed a contract potentially cost him millions.
Ideally I hope the Rockets magically find a max free agent in the next 24 hours and sign Parsons using the Bird Rights. It wouldn't feel like the Rockets without him after three years with him, but this isn't a betrayal. It's business.