Daryl Morey undecided on Chandler Parsons’ option

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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.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scores career-high 44, dedicates game to father

Associated Press
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MILWAUKEE (AP) — After scoring a career-high 44 points, Giannis Antetokounmpo wrote a note on the game ball.

“This is for daddy. We got a win tonight,” the 22-year-old Milwaukee Bucks player said, remembering his father, Charles, who died last month at age 54.

Antetokounmpo scored 17 points in the fourth quarter, including a dunk that put Milwaukee ahead 111-110 with 11 seconds to go.

After a timeout, Damian Lillard found Jusuf Nurkic running open down the lane, but Antetokounmpo blocked his shot at the basket, sending the 7-foot center crashing to the floor.

Antetokounmpo, starting his fifth NBA season, made 17 of 23 shots with eight rebounds and four assists as Milwaukee kept pace with a Portland team that had dominated its first two opponents. The Bucks star is averaging 38.3 points through three games, up from 22.9 last year, 16.9 in 2015-16 and 12.7 in 2014-15.

“Seventy-nine more. This is just the beginning,” he said, thinking about how many regular-season games remain.

After Nurkic was rejected at the basket, Khris Middleton was fouled and made both free throws.

“They committed two guys to Dame, so somebody was going to be open,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said, referring to Lillard. “Turned out to be Nurk but they made a really good defensive play.”

Lillard scored 26 points, including 16 in the fourth quarter. CJ McCollum also scored 26, and Nurkic had 17 points and 11 rebounds. Tony Snell scored 17 points and Middleton added 16 for Milwaukee.

 

Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant ejected at end of loss to Grizzlies

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Stephen Curry is going to get fined for this.

The former MVP was frustrated, his team losing and thinking he was fouled by Mike Conley as he attacked the rim late in the Warriors loss in Memphis Saturday night. Curry threw his mouthpiece at the referee, which deservedly got him ejected instantly.

Durant followed him to the locker room, making a gesture that will earn him a fine as well.

The Warriors are 1-2 to start the season and there are a lot of factors at play. The China trip does this to teams, and throw in three straight trips to the Finals on top of it and it has an impact. The team is a little banged up. However, the biggest issue is their defense is a mess right now.

The Warriors will straighten it out eventually, but the start of the season could be a rough one for them.

Pacers owner says team not for sale, will not be moved from Indianapolis

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There are more than a few NBA owners who are seeing the prices teams are being sold for — the Rockets just sold for a record $2.2 billion — and considering their options. Some other billionaires are looking for teams, several with the goal of packing up the franchise and moving it to their respected hometowns.

Those billionaires need not call Herb Simon. The Pacers owner said the team is not going anywhere, speaking to Gregg Doyel of the IndyStar.

“I want to leave my legacy: This team permanently in Indianapolis,” Simon told IndyStar Friday in an interview at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. “That’s my No. 1 goal.”

Simon bought the Pacers in 1983 with his older brother, Melvin — who died in 2009 at age 82. He told IndyStar the team someday will be owned by his 53-year-old son, Steve. Behind the scenes, Steve Simon has been working closely with Pacers Sports and President Rick Fuson for five years — “He knows more about the dollars and cents than I do,” Herb said of his son — and met this week with several department heads.

“If anything happens to me, he’d be taking over,” Herb said, adding that father and son are on the same page: The Pacers are staying in Indianapolis.

Good. That is as it should be.

Indiana is part of America’s basketball heartland, and it should have a team. Pacers fans are smart and loyal, and the team has a long history going back to the ABA, running from Mel Daniels and George McGinnis through Reggie Miller and up to Myles Turner (hopefully he can be on the level of the rest of them someday). They play in the coolest basketball building in the league, one with the history of the sport wolven in.

Indy is the nation’s 27th largest television market, bigger than San Antonio, Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City and other successful NBA franchises. There is no reason the Pacers cannot thrive, so long as ownership is committed.

They are. Which is excellent news for Pacers’ fans.

Stan Van Gundy speaks out again in support of protesting athletes

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy used his team’s trip to Washington to again voice his support for athletes who kneel during the national anthem and his opposition to President Donald Trump.

Van Gundy was asked before Friday night’s game against the Wizards what he hoped would result from the president’s criticism of NFL players who refuse to stand for the anthem and the resulting national dialogue about political activism by professional athletes.

“I don’t know what good can come out of anything the president has said,” Van Gundy said. “As far as the athletes’ protest, I hope people would pay attention to the issues that caused the protest in the first place and realize that we have problem disproportionately with police brutality towards men of color.”

Van Gundy also criticized fans who have booed those athletes because they believe the gesture is disrespectful to the United States military.

“I thought that one of the things the military is fighting for is the American way of life and our values, which I think starts with freedom of speech,” Van Gundy said. “Our country was founded on protest. Otherwise, we would still be a colony of England. You would think people would appreciate non-violent protests that will be made.

“If you don’t stand for freedom of speech and you don’t think those players have the right to freedom of speech, what American values are you for?”

It was not the first time Van Gundy has spoken out on these issues. When Trump was elected last November, Van Gundy told the Detroit Free Press it was the first time he had been “ashamed” of his country.

Last month on the team’s media day, he read a prepared statement in support of athletes who use their visibility for political purposes, including protests during the anthem. The NBA has a policy requiring that players stand for the anthem.

The Pistons’ visit to Washington was their first since Jan. 21, one day after Trump’s inauguration.

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