Some Mavs observers think it’s a question.
The Mavs themselves - along with the market - already know the answer.
"Absolutely,’ Mavs GM Donnie Nelson tells me on the subject of Chandler Parsons and his ‘max’ free-agency summer, "we'll put our best foot forward and work something out.’'
The "max-money'' part of this is not really a debate for NBA teams. Parsons has worked his way back from knee surgery and is performing at a level that makes him what we might term a “Tier-2’’ NBA player. He’s not an All-Star (as much as he might hope to be someday). He’s not a “face of the franchise’’ (because that status isn’t just about high-profile or good looks).
But “is he a max player?’'
The market decides that. And the Mavs already know what the market will be.
The scoop from inside Mavs HQ:
"The reality is,’’ Donnie tells me, "we were blessed and lucky that we landed Chandler Parsons because the B-plan (what Dallas would’ve done in the summer of 2015) wasn't a very good one. And, so, to come out of free agency, and we extended a little bit to make it, which was definitely going to be worth the extra dollars.’'
In other words, that $16-mil salary to start is what it took to rob Parsons from the Rockets — and what it took to keep Dallas’ free-agent “get’’ that summer come in the form of, oh, say, Lance Stephenson.
The injury, of course, tossed a wrench into the mechanism. It meant Dallas had no shot in last year’s first-round playoff meeting with Houston. It meant some sputtering to this year’s campaign. But the rehab road is now a clear one … and Parsons is going to get offers this summer on July 1 of four years and ($90 million elsewhere) and, ultimately, four years and $93 million (to stay in Dallas, starting at $21.1 mil based on a $90-mil cap).
Said Donnie, alluding also to last summer’s “get’’ of the then-rehabbing Wesley Matthews: “Chandler went through a tough situation with his injury. And we have seen what he's capable of the last couple of months when he has his confidence back and NBA sea-legs. And we had a similar situation with Wes. And, so, it's not like you get healthy and then you just get thrown back in. It's timing. It's rhythm. It's teammates. It's that. We obviously we like both of them. They are key acquistions for us and starters and are the right age that gives us some youth and some upside. So, yeah, we're happy with both of them and would love for both of them to retire Mavericks.”
Well, first things first. Parsons has his opt-out-related choices. He will eventually say the right things when asked about being recruited by Houston, Orlando, L.A., New York, wherever, because that’s how this works. He will draw the interest of dozens of teams and will be considered by many who fail in their pursuit of a "Tier-1'' guy like Kevin Durant a "consolation prize.'' And then ultimately?
"Free agency is a couple of months down the line and our focus is on the playoffs,’’ Donnie said. "But let's just say that he likes us; we like him. Those things have a way of working themselves out usually. It's going to be a different environment this summer (due to the rising cap) as is well-documented. So, we hope at the right time to have a conversation and he's certainly a building block for us with big upside with youth, recruiting and all the things he brings to the table. So, absolutely we'll put our best foot forward and work something out."