There is an almost-soap-operatic vibe to Chandler Parsons' presence with the Dallas Mavericks. He signed his contract in a nightclub, disputed a claim from his coach by publishing a photo of his own abs, captained Dallas' losing free-agency push, allowed himself via his dating life to be connected to both the Kardashians and the Manziels -- the Daily-Double of TMZ scuzziness -- and, along with the insanely hard work he's put in to rehab from knee surgery, also seems to spend a lot of time wishing to clarify via the media exactly what he thinks his Mavs role should be.
"I love where Parsons is,'' coach Rick Carlisle said this week. "Who would have thought Parsons and Matthews (with the Achilles rehab) would be this far along at this point in the season? Nobody. Those guys have been busting their asses.''
I've made it clear that in my view, CP should spend more time following Carlisle's demands and less time in search of a microphone to express his questions about those demands. But ultimately, the Parsons-Carlisle relationship will be fine. (Or, at least, better than the Parsons-Kendall Jenner made-for-Hollywood relationship and the Parsons-Johnny Manziel made-for-Uptown relationship).
The determining factor as it regards Chandler Parsons' future here isn't about friendship. This is pro sports, and therefore the determining factor as it regards Chandler Parsons' future here is ... money.
How much? How soon? How to do it in a Dirk-like manner so it most benefits yet another annual attempt to rebuild this team into a true contender?
We're going to assume a salary cap for the NBA’s teams in 2016-17 of $90 million. From there, the numbers become convoluted because the options are complex and many. Example: On July 1, the Mavs will be "officially over the salary cap, with no cap room.'' (How's that? For a fuller explanation, see here.)
Panic? Stuck? No. That's just where the fun starts.
"How much cap room do the Mavs have?” is wildly "fungible,'' as Jerry Jones would say.
Dallas has a core group of players under contract (totalling $42 million) who, if the Mavs simply used that as their base and plowed forward towards July 1 buying time, they could have $48 million in room ... but they would go shopping, in this scenario, without Zaza, Deron and Chandler Parsons. Meaning they'd need to find three starters, better than those three, who would each accept contracts averaging $16 million.
Possible ... but remember that last year, it took you $16 million to get Wesley Matthews. So, if you believe this is a superstar league (and I do, and so does Mark Cuban), you would be building a deep team that way, but not a great team. To build a great team requires the signing of a great player. The max-money price tag for doing so this summer can be as high as $29.5 million ... So you see how tight, and how unlikely, all that is.
So we come back to Chandler Parsons and what he represents.
A good player? Yes. Pivotal to Dallas in so many ways? Yes, on the court (as a Carlisle "grind-and-flow'' guy) and beyond.
A great player? Maybe not. ... though he's been a critical contributor to Dallas' 29-26 success, and he said, "I'm feeling great. (The last dozen or so games are) some of the best basketball I've ever played in my career. My body feels great. I'm as confident as I've ever been. And I'm in a good place.''
So maybe a very good player. But a great asset if managed properly? Yes, and I'm not talking about "managing him'' in the Carlisle basketball sense, but rather in the Cuban business sense.
One off-court role Parsons plays is that of "Recruiting Chief.'' He's very vocal about it, and so is Cuban in his support of the concept, but "The Bro Network'' hasn't worked yet for the Mavs (though certainly Parsons' buoyant personality helped bring Matthews here, aids the locker room now, and can open recruitment doors in the future).
But before CP recruits anybody to Dallas, he needs to recruit himself to Dallas. And before the Mavs know what they can afford in free agency, they need to figure out how to "afford'' Parsons.
He could make this very simple by skipping free agency this summer, accepting his player option for 2016-17, and stay locked in at $16.023 million. (Salary and cap impact.) That would help the Mavs and it would help the cap and, well, it's the sort of thing the rest of us only Dirk Nowitzki would do, I think. In other words, the rest of us mortals -- including Chandler Parsons -- don't approach money that way. Nor are we (or he) obliged to. ... to decline that option for another year (even at $16.023 million!), making him an unrestricted free agent and eligible for a max salary of $21.1 million.
Admit it: If you are Chandler Parsons, and you are trying to decide between $16 million and $21 mlllion, you have no decision at all.
The Mavs do, however. Among their options is to let him walk. Wash your hands. Let his abs and his dating life and his passive-aggressive media petitioning for different roles and bigger roles go elsewhere. Open up more room by having a Chandler Parsons cap hit of ... zero.
That's absolutely not Mark Cuban's plan, of course. Beyond the Bro Bond that the owner has with the player (by the way, as I cautioned regarding this team's "bond'' with Tyson Chandler, such things are usually fleeting), Cuban believes Chandler can be a key piece on a title contender, and envisions Parsons and Matthews as a standout wing combo for the long-term future.
So Parsons becomes "free'' (kinda) but stays, probably with an Early-Bird cap hold of $20 million that allows Dallas to go shopping, and then circle back and give him (up to) his $21.1 million max and presumably, a long-term monster contract. (Or maybe the required raise to keep him won't be quite that hefty, as there have been whispers - unconfirmed and unbinding, of course - that Parsons currently is only thinking of an $80-mil deal this summer, which then could start as low as $18.74 mil.)
In any event, with some other finagling, the Mavs can essentially head into free agency this summer with a “budget” of the $26.8 million or perhaps a tad more, no holes on the wing but needs at center and point guard, with, in theory, the bulk of that money going to a "star'' player that comes to Dallas in part because Parsons recruits him here ....
But mostly because money recruits him here.
Because again, as with Chandler Parsons himself, the Mavs' Summer of 2016 Shopping will seem like it's about relationships and nightclubs and beach retreats and bros ... but will ultimately, as usual, be about finance.