Chandler Parsons took credit for recruiting Dwight Howard – an all-time great in high demand – away from the Lakers and to the Rockets. Parsons reportedly once had more roster control with the Mavericks than then-general manager Donnie Nelson did. Parsons got a max contract worth more than $94 million from the Grizzlies.
Parsons put himself in the center of money, fame and power through a nine-year career that has ended following a 2020 car crash.
Parsons’ career will be defined by that Memphis contract in a wild 2016 free agency. The Grizzlies signed him as their missing piece in the Grit & Grind era even though he was coming off a major knee injury and had a history of knee problems. He got hurt again and again, missing 151 games in his three seasons with Memphis.
Grizzlies fans resented him. In turn, Parsons said he’d treat home games like road games. That only made matters worse. Parsons griped and griped about not playing, though there was scant evidence he could still help the team win. In the end, Parsons defended himself by saying forgoing the max contract offered to him would’ve been psychotic.
It’s worth taking a step back and remembering why Memphis signed him to such a lucrative deal: He was a really good basketball player. Then-Grizzlies coach David Fizdale, while acknowledging the athleticism difference, said he wanted to use Parsons like LeBron James: “I just see the same skill set.”
Parsons built himself up after entering the NBA as a Rockets second-round pick in 2011 (once he secured an unusually high salary for a second-rounder). By his second season, he was the second-best player (next to James Harden) on a playoff team. He remained a productive supporting player on an even better team once Howard arrived.
But Houston declined Parsons’ minimum-salary team option in 2014 to make him a restricted free agent. (If the option had been exercised, Parsons would’ve become an unrestricted free agent in 2015.) When Parsons signed a three-year offer sheet worth more than $46 million with Dallas, the Rockets surprisingly didn’t match. Parsons trashed Houston on the way out the door.
With the Mavericks, Parsons cozied up to Mark Cuban in a unique owner-player relationship. But that went south along with Parsons’ health.
Before becoming known for his unavailability on big contracts, Parsons worked to find the spotlight. He enhanced his profile by playing up his looks and even modeling. He also frequently dished on NBA happenings, seemingly having the inside scoop. In 2014, while it still seemed farfetched, Parsons predicted LeBron James would leave the Heat in free agency.
By the time Parsons got into that car crash while on the Hawks, he appeared to be near his last legs as an NBA player. But he was looking forward to playing on a cheaper deal, one that’d make fans more likely to appreciate him. After the crash, he never got that opportunity.
Now 33, Parsons walks away after quite the eventful career.