Phoenix Suns v Houston Rockets

Daryl Morey undecided on Chandler Parsons’ option


The Houston Rockets are going to take a risk with Chandler Parsons, but which one?

Parsons is under contract for $964,750 next season with a team option.

If the Rockets pick up the option, they’d get Parsons for that ultra-cheap salary next year. However, he’d become an unrestricted free agent in 2015, and Houston would face a greater risk of losing him for nothing.

If the Rockets decline the option, Parsons would become a restricted free agent this summer. The Gilbert Arenas applies only to players with one or two years experience, so Parsons doesn’t qualify. But because the Rockets has Parsons’ full bird rights, they could match any offer he receives. Plus, Parsons’ restricted status would likely cool the market for him, because other teams would know Houston could match any offer.

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, in a Q&A with Jonathan Feigen of Ultimate Rockets:

Q: How do you make a decision on picking up the option on Chandler Parsons’ contract when you don’t know what will happen in free agency two weeks after your deadline to make a decision?

A:”We won’t know everything we need to know when we have to make a decision on Chandler’s (contract) option. We have to make the best decision at the time we have to make it (June 29).”

Morey’s decision very well could hinge on Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin.

Free agents continue to count against a team’s cap until renounced or signed. How much a free agent counts against the cap – called a free agent amount – depends on multiple factors, but whenever Parsons becomes a free agent, he offers a big opportunity for his team.

This summer, his free agent amount would be $1,760,350. Next season, it would be $1,833,025. Either way, that’s extremely low for a player of Parsons’ caliber.

Houston could let Parsons sit on their books at his free agent amount, use all their other cap room and then re-sign Parsons to his larger salary ($9 million per year or so).

But the Rockets aren’t slated to have cap room this summer, so Parsons’ extraordinarily low free agent amount wouldn’t really help now. They’d still just have the mid-level, bi-annual and minimum-salary exceptions to sign free agents.

However, the Rockets are expected to have cap room in 2015, when the contracts of Asik and Lin expire ($8,374,646 each). Then, Houston could use the aforementioned trick to get most from its space before re-signing Parsons, assuming Parsons agrees to wait.

This all changes, though, if Asik and Lin are traded sooner. Either they could be traded for less salary (giving Houston cap room this summer) or a long-term contract (eliminating Houston’s cap room next summer).

Unless he’s already traded them by Parson’s option date, Morey has to weigh the likelihood of trading them later among many other factors. The decisions on Parsons is definitely complicated.

With the information I have available, I’d exercise Parsons’ option, and the call isn’t that close.

Asik and Lin hold actual 2014-15 salaries of $14,898,938 (even though their cap amounts are lower), so trading them won’t be easy. The Rockets definitely think Asik is undervalued, and they might be right. But if nobody else knows it, it doesn’t matter as far as trades. They face similar difficulties with trading Lin.

Plus, at a cheap salary, Parsons is a tremendous trade asset himself. If he becomes a restricted free agent, not only would his higher salary make him less desirable, he’d have the right to approve any trades for a year if Houston matches an offer sheet to keep him.

Unless an Asik-Lin trade emerges before the end of June, the Rockets should exercise their option on Parsons and reap the rewards of their good drafting and smart signing for one more year.

Jimmy Butler wants Mason Plumlee to pay fine after scuffle (video)


Jimmy Butler and Mason Plumlee got into an altercation in the Bulls’ win over the Trail Blazers last night.

Plumlee lowered his head and tried to barrel through Butler’s chest on a Butler screen. Butler fell and retaliated by putting Plumlee in a leg lock, causing Plumlee to fall.

You might remember a leg lock as what Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova did to Bulls forward Taj Gibson during last year’s playoffs. For all the talk then of Dellavedova being a dirty player, Butler seems particularly aggrieved after getting a technical foul, which comes with a $2,500 fine – the same penalty Dellavedova eventually received. (Plumlee got a flagrant foul.)

Butler, via Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

“He thought he was playing football for a second there,” Butler said. “Almost had to let the Fort Greene Projects out of me, Brooklyn, you know what I’m saying?”

It was said tongue in cheek considering Gibson was a few feet over and Butler wanted to draw some laughs. Gibson is a Brooklyn native and grew up in the Fort Greene Projects while Butler grew up in Tomball, Texas.

It was no laughing matter when he said he would find a way to approach Plumlee about the fine money, jokingly suggesting he would have his agent email him at “Mr. or something” and made a joke about Mike Dunleavy applauding Plumlee’s act.

Plumlee and Dunleavy are products of Duke University.

“Yeah, he cost me 2,500,” Butler said. “I’m not happy about that. Gonna ask him to pay me back and I’m not playing.”

Is that, or Or is it Dookie?

These are important questions – at least if you’re trying to turn the conversation away from your dirty play and toward your colorful quotes.

Breaking news: Leandro Barbosa dunked


The Warriors became the first team in NBA history to start 16-0.

In the process of getting that record-breaking win over the Lakers, something nearly as historic happened.

Leandro Barbosa dunked.

The 32-year-old Golden State guard last jammed in January 2011.

For a little more perspective, look how Barbosa handled a breakaway layup earlier in the fourth quarter:

You think that man can still slam?

Yes. Yes, he can.

Magic benching Victor Oladipo, starting Channing Frye

Stephen Curry, Victor Oladipo, Channing Frye
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Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Evan Fournier, Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic have started eight of the Magic’s 14 games, including the last three.

But after Orlando dropped two straight, Scott Skiles hinted at lineup changes.

The Magic coach will deliver against the Knicks tonight, swapping Channing Frye for Oladipo.

Skiles, via Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

“It’s nothing punitive,” Skiles said after the Magic’s shootaround.

“It’s just we feel like we’ve got to try to find a little bit better balance. I’d like Victor to have some more opportunities like he’s had a little bit in the past where he can be on top of the floor and attack and get a little bit more vertical and not only get to the rim but just be a little bit more on the attack but not necessarily start the game that way.”

Here are the offensive/defensive/net ratings for the

  • Former starting lineup: 94.7/111.2/-16.5
  • New starting lineup: 117.2/90.3/+26.8

The new unit has played just 33 minutes in two games, so major sample-size caveats apply. But I like idea of seeing more of what has worked.

I suspect Skiles also wants to keep his players from becoming content. At 6-8 and coming off three straight seasons outside the playoffs, they should have no reason to feel satisfied, but the hard-driving Skiles will be proactive.

If Oladipo – whose defense Skiles values – can get sent to the bench, anyone can.

At some point, the Magic must determine whether Oladipo and Payton – both below-average 3-point shooters – can share a backcourt. But it’s also worth knowing whether Oladipo can excel as a super sub leading bench players.

This switch might help the Magic win now, but at worse, it’ll give them more information for evaluating their young roster. Seems smart all around.

Dwight Howard says he’s cleared to play back-to-backs

Dwight Howard
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The 5-9 Houston Rockets need some wins.

The Houston Rockets have a back-to-back coming up, Sunday against the Knicks then Monday against the Pistons (both on the road). Two teams with quality big men.

Combine those things and you end up with Dwight Howard being re-evaluated by team doctors and getting the training wheels taken off, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

This, plus a mini training camp the past few days, is part of new coach J.B. Bickerstaff’s effort to turn Houston’s season around.

Houston’s defense is 1.9 points per 100 possessions better this season when Howard is on the court and the Rockets are stronger on the glass. The problem is the offense is 7.8 points per 100 worse with Howard on the court. How much of that can be changed with some roster tweaks — like limiting the time James Harden and Ty Lawson share the court — and how much is due to Howard demanding touches and not doing enough with them we will find out quickly.