The Houston Rockets made a calculated risk when they declined Chandler Parsons’ team option and made him a restricted free agent this offseason rather than letting him becoming an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Had Houston simply picked up Parsons’ option, he would have counted safely at just $964,750 against the cap this offseason. Instead, he counts at $2,875,130 until his new contract goes into effect. When it does, his 2014-15 salary will become his cap number, and that will be much higher.
Essentially the Rockets were betting Parsons would patiently wait an offer. Houston would sign an outside free agent first and then exceed the cap to re-sign Parsons.
That plan might have backfired.
Marc Stein of ESPN:
David Aldridge of NBA.com:
On a three-year contract, Parsons’ max is $46,164,000, so this is a max contract or close to it. Parsons’ max starting salary is $ 14,725,359 – a heck of a lot more than $2,875,130.
The easy path for the Rockets is signing a top free agent during the 72-hour period they have to match, and then they can go over the cap to keep Parsons.
But that’s predicated on other free agents deciding so quickly. Houston might not get everything to line up so conveniently.
If the Rockets match, they’ll be out of the race for any elite free agents and likely anyone who commands more than the mid-level exception. Carmelo Anthony reportedly plans to re-sign with the Knicks, so there’s likely no dilemma there.
But what happens if LeBron James – and therefore Chris Bosh – is still in flux? Would the Rockets match Parsons’ offer? Or would they let him leave on the chance they can get Bosh?
Daryl Morey backed himself into a corner.
The Mavericks might be hamstringing themselves, too. That’s a lot of money to pay Parsons if Houston doesn’t match – though, if Gordon Hayward deserves a max contract, Parsons probably does, too. Those two have similar value.
For the most part, I like the deal for Dallas, even if it hinders long-term flexibility. The Mavericks are trying to maximize Dirk Nowitzki’s final years. Trading for Tyson Chandler was a good step, and this would be another. Parsons is a solid all-around player who immediately makes the team better.
Plus, if the Rockets match and miss out on a premier free agent, Mark Cuban can take pride in making life difficult for a rival.