Chandler Parsons signed a four-year max contract with the Grizzlies in 2016.
His career hasn’t been the same since.
Parsons is getting all that money – more than $94 million. He also can’t stay healthy. Knee issues, key to why the Mavericks let him leave, have frequently sidelined him. Parsons has had to deal with fans loathing him. He got traded to the Hawks, because Memphis wanted to unload his salary.
Now, Parsons says he’s healthy. Yet, he has played just four games for rebuilding Atlanta this season.
Parsons, via Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype:
It sucks. It really sucks. Obviously, I want to play. I want to help. I’m healthy and I’m in a contract year, so I want to show the team that I’m healthy and I can play and I can definitely help this team win. But at the same time, I understand the objective here and I understand the operation and knowing that development, so I’m just staying ready.
I’m the most healthy I’ve been in a long time. I’ve just got to sustain that and keep managing it. My knees feel great, my body feels great. Hopefully, it’s just a blessing in disguise that I’m not playing now and I’ll be ready.
I think anybody with a brain in my situation would have taken the contract. It’s funny. People that are hating on it, if they were in my shoes or if their son was in my shoes, they would have told them to do the same thing. Right? Should I have predicted that I was going to be hurt and took less or took half the money? That’s psychotic.
I think just to get on a team next year, on a financial friendly deal, it changes the whole look of you to the fans as well as the media and everything. You see a lot of guys that do that. Dwight Howard on a max deal was awful. Dwight on an interim deal is phenomenal. Someone like Andre Iguodala, when he goes to say, the Lakers for minimum, he’s going to be this huge value and people are going to love him. That’s just how it goes.
Parsons went through something similar in Memphis. But he made more noise about not playing. He sounds more willing to accept a smaller role in Atlanta. Unlike with the Grizzlies, he never joined the Hawks expecting to contribute to winning.
Parsons is right: Salary colors how people view play. Highly paid players can be resented and low-paid players praised for the exact same performance.
Maybe Parsons, who’ll likely receive a minimum salary, will land on the celebrated side of the curve next season.
But Parsons has struggled for any NBA player. He hasn’t had a reasonably productive season in four years, though it’s tough to judge amid injuries. Still, his longest extended stint in the lineup came with Memphis last season. He shot just 43% on 2-pointers and 31% on 3-pointers in 22 games. It’s possible the 31-year-old just no longer has the athleticism to play well at this level.
Maybe Parsons truly is healthy now. Barely playing this season could rejuvenate him. He’s clearly looking forward to his next opportunity.
I just wouldn’t assume Atlanta’s youth movement is the primary reason he’s stuck on the bench.