Report: Rockets to decline team option on Chandler Parsons in pursuit of bigger star

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If they desire, the Rockets will keep Chandler Parsons next season. That was always the case.

It will just cost them a little more now – by their choice.

The Rockets hold a $964,750 team option on Parsons for next season. If they exercise it, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent in 2015. If they decline it, he’ll become a restricted free agent this summer – i.e., getting a raise sooner but one Houston can match.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

The Houston Rockets plan to decline the fourth-year option on forward Chandler Parsons’ contract, freeing him to become a restricted free agent this summer, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Houston is determined to clear the necessary salary cap space this summer to chase a third maximum contract free agent to join Dwight Howard and James Harden, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.

Houston plans to pursue the major stars who could be available upon opting out of deals, including Miami’s LeBron James and Chris Bosh, and New York’s Carmelo Anthony, league sources said. Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki is expected to be a target too.

We already knew the Rockets were interested in Kevin Love, an attainable target. But why not also put LeBron, Bosh, Melo and Nowitzki on the radar? Who wouldn’t want one of those players?

However, if the Rockets were intent on maximizing cap room, they would have just picked up Parsons’ option to ensure he’d count against the cap at $964,750.

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By Houston declining it and then extending a qualifying offer, Parsons will count against the cap at $2,875,130* until he signs either a contract or offer sheet. Then, he’ll count against the cap at his 2014-15 salary, which will surely be much higher.

*He earned a higher qualifying offer by meeting the starter criteria. That puts his qualifying offer equal to the rookie-scale amount for the No. 21 pick in the 2010 draft (not 2011, as previously noted). Though Parsons was drafted in 2011, the 2010 draft is used because players drafted in the first round in 2010 are finishing their contracts this season.

So, it seems the Rockets are more interested in a sign-and-trade.

I’d think a player of Parsons’ quality making less than $1 million, even if on an expiring contract and due a big raise the following year, would have high trade value. But to add salary in a trade – LeBron, Bosh, Melo, Nowitzki or Love wouldn’t come cheap – the Rockets would have to send out a comparable amount of salary. In that sense, a higher-paid Parsons could be more helpful.

This decision might say something about the low trade value of Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin, who will each count $8,374,646 against the cap next season while owed $14,898,938 in real money. Though that cap number could facilitate a sign-and-trade, teams might balk about actually paying so much in actual dollars.

Hence, Parsons – a better player than Asik and Lin – could become the preferred sign-and-trade option.

Of course, Parsons would have to go along with a sign-and-trade. He’s clearly fond of Houston, and he might not accommodate a deal that sends him elsewhere.

[MORE: The curious case of Chandler Parsons]

That said, he should welcome making around $10 million rather than less than $1 million next season. Wherever Parsons plays in 2014-15, Houston is doing him a huge favor.

Personally, I would have exercised Parsons’ option and enjoyed the advantages of a good starter making so little money for an extra year. Then, once the contracts of Asik and Lin expire next summer, I would have tried to leverage Parsons’ tiny free agent amount into huge cap space and then gone over the cap to re-sign Parsons.

But Morey should know the Rockets’ current options better than I do. This could be the first step to something very big.

And if that backfires, Houston will at least safely lock up Parsons for several more years, though at a higher cost.

Gordon Hayward’s agent says return this season unlikely

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Wednesday night in Boston Gordon Hayward underwent surgery to repair his dislocated ankle and fractured tibia suffered just five minutes into the season-opening game, a gruesome injury that put a pall over the rest of the night.

There had been hope from some Celtics fans that Hayward could return this season, likely for the playoffs, but now that the surgery is complete Hayward’s agent told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN not to expect him back until next season.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who saw the injury. Hayward is in the first year of a four-year deal with the Celtics, they were always going to choose a cautious path rather than rush him back. Under Danny Ainge Boston has always taken the long view, even with all their moves this summer — specifically bringing in Hayward and Kyrie Irving — the target was to be the team set up for next as LeBron James and the Cavaliers faded. That plan does not change now.

Earlier in the day, Hayward had sent a video message out to Celtics fans thanking them for their support in the past 24 hours.

Without Hayward, the Celtics now will focus more on smaller lineups, rookie Jayson Tatum will get more run, as will Marcus Smart in his contract year. Jaylen Brown will be thrust into a more significant role. Also, Kyrie Irving will be asked to do more as the team’s second-best playmaker is now out for the season.

The Celtics will take a step back this season without Hayward, who was going to be crucial for them on both ends of the floor. That’s evidenced by their 0-2 start, falling to the Cavaliers and Bucks on the first couple nights of the season. Boston should still be a team well above .500 and in the playoffs, but they will not be quite the same this season.

Trail Blazers beat Suns by 48, biggest season-opening rout in NBA history

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Any controversy over C.J. McCollum‘s suspension for the season-opener should be put to rest. The Trail Blazers fared fine without him.

More than fine.

Portland beat the Suns, 124-76, Wednesday. The 48-point margin is the largest ever in a season opener, even as the Trail Blazers let a 58-point fourth-quarter lead dwindle.

Here are the most lopsided season-openers in NBA history (openers for both teams appearing twice):

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The 48-point defeat is also the Suns’ worst lost in franchise history, topping a 44-point loss to the Seattle SuperSonics in 1988. It could be a long year in Phoenix.

Marcus Smart and Matthew Dellavedova scrap (video)

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Marcus Smart and Matthew Dellavedova thrive on aggravating opponents, so when matched up, of course they aggravated each other.

Deduct points from Smart for pulling the hold-me-back charade behind a referee. Plus, Dellavedova’s Bucks beat Smart’s Celtics, 108-100.

Report: ‘Tremendous concern’ for Jeremy Lin’s knee injury

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The Nets’ projected record this season came under greater scrutiny when the Celtics traded Brooklyn’s unprotected first-round pick to the Cavaliers in the Kyrie Irving trade. After finishing third-to-last and last the previous two years, were the Nets poised to take a step forward, or would they convey a very high pick to the Cavs?

Jeremy Lin, who missed 46 games last season, getting healthy was a reason for optimism in Brooklyn and pessimism in Cleveland. But it appears the veteran guard could be out a while.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Billy Reinhardt of Nets Daily:

If the injury is as bad as feared, what a bummer for Lin. He came to Brooklyn expecting to play a leading role on a developing team, and he just can’t stay healthy.

The Nets were probably more focused on developing their younger players, but – especially without their own draft picks – there was no harm in shooting for the playoffs. This appears to a blow to that (already unlikely) dream.

It’s a boon to the Cavaliers, though. And whenever something significantly affects LeBron James‘ team, it has ramifications into the entire power dynamic of the Eastern Conference. For an injury to a player on a team most expect to be bad, the medical developments here will be tracked closely around the league.