While the Houston Rockets were pursuing a big fish (or two) in free agency, it seems like they dropped the ball on a valuable player who was on their roster. Small forward Chandler Parsons will go from the NBA’s best bargain to a $15 million a year player within a matter of days and will slip right from under the Rockets’ nose.
Parsons averaged 16.6 points and 5.5 rebounds last season. A second round pick in 2011, he became a fixture in the Rockets rotation by starting 207 of the 213 games he has played.
Parsons signed a 3 year / $2.50 million contract with the Houston Rockets in 2011 and had a Club Option in 2014 where if they took it, all they had to pay Parson was $964,750. The Rockets gambled by declining the option and making their starting small forward and team captain a restricted free agent, giving them to the right to match any offer he gets rather than having Parsons as a unrestricted free agent next season.
When the opportunity presented itself, Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks made them pay by giving Parsons an offer sheet for $45 million for three years on Thursday.
Friday the Rockets planned to match the offer to Parsons after signing free agent center Chris Bosh. They cleared up salary cap space which included trading guard Jeremy Lin and a future first-round pick to the Los Angeles Lakers. They were going to try and sign Bosh to a near max deal that was estimated to be a 4-year deal worth a little more than $80 million in order to keep point guard Patrick Beverly and match the offer to Parsons. However, Bosh opted to stay in Miami on a five-year, $118 million max contract.
The Rockets went to Plan B and went after Trevor Ariza and both parties agreed to a four-year deal worth $32 million. Ariza averaged 14.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 77 games for the Washington Wizards. He helped them get to the second round of the NBA Playoffs before losing to the Indiana Pacers. He made a career best 40.7 percent from three-point range. Ariza played for the Rockets for just one season after signing a five-year, $34 million deal in 2010. The Rockets have the cap space they need to spend before making a decision on whether or not to match Parsons’ offer sheet from Dallas.
Parsons will be either the highest-paid Mavericks player or the Rockets’ second-highest paid player behind All-Star center Dwight Howard. That is a long way from where he started as a second-round pick making less than $1 million a year and less than 10 other Rockets players last season.
Houston could have avoided this problem simply by securing the young and talented player they already have, then go out and see what they could find in free agency. Because they didn’t do that, they are spending excessive time and money to correct the mistake.
Houston has until 11:59 p.m. Sunday to match the Mavs’ offer to Parsons, who currently accounts for a $2.9 million hold on the Rockets’ cap.