Past meets future tonight at the AAC as Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Yogi Ferrell — the NBA's Western Conference Rookie of the Month for February — leads the home team against the Memphis Grizzlies featuring old pal Chandler Parsons, who vows to participate in the 7:30 p.m. tip.
“No doubt,’’ CP says. “I’ll play in Dallas.’’
Ferrell isn’t Dallas’ entire future, of course; the smart projection of him is as a former 10-day-contract guy who becomes a rotation player next season and beyond. But for now? He’s played 14 games for the Mavs, who are 24-36 overall but 8-6 in his games, and has averaged 12.2 points and 5.1 assists in 32 minutes per game.
“So well-deserved," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said of Yogi’s reward, which makes him the first Mav to win the honor since Devin Harris in 2004. "This recognition proves that there is untapped talent out there and that hard, enthusiastic play does not go unnoticed in the NBA."
Speaking of “getting noticed,’’ Chandler will be in action for a 36-25 Memphis team that is keyed by Mike Conley (Yogi’s head-to-head challenge). Conley has pushed Memphis to two straight wins, including a 130-point outburst against Phoenix. While the Mavs continue to float well below the No. 8 spot line of demarcation, Memphis is in sixth in the Wet but just one game behind No. 4 Utah.
Parsons is trying to aid that push.
"All I know is I see a guy in here really trying to help us," Memphis coach David Fizdale said. "And you better believe it -- when he gets going, it's going to be a huge lift to us. And I guarantee you a lot of people will be happy with him once that body starts moving."
Parsons, because of knee issues that simply won’t go away, is on a minutes restriction of about 25 per, and doesn’t fully play in back-to-backs. (Memphis is at Houston on Saturday). His limitations are why Dallas opted to not offer him a max deal, freeing him to go to the Grizzlies while replacing him with Harrison Barnes.
The switch has proven to be a wise one.
While Parsons is experiencing the poorest season of his six-year career (6.1 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists while shooting just 34.2 percent from the field and 25.9 percent from 3), Barnes has become a centerpiece on both ends of the floor for Dallas. He’ll need help tonight as Wesley Matthews (hip) sits out. That help can come from Dirk Nowitzki, who is 48 shy of the 30,000-points mark for his career, and from Nerlens Noel, who figures to start after blowing a chance to do so earlier this week in a loss at Atlanta as he was late to the plane departing Dallas.
“We’ll see if he can find the arena in the morning,’’ Carlisle said of newcomer Noel, who prepped for that flight by showing up at DFW Airport instead of Love Field.
And we’ll see if Yogi can experience yet another good month against a big and deep Memphis team that offers a matchup problem inside with Marc Gasol and a matchup nightmare with Zach Randolph as he comes off the bench to average 14 points and eight rebounds.
This outing (see the Mavs-Grizz GameThread here) is the start of a five-game homestand for a Mavs team that truly believes it has a shot at the eighth seed. There are potential wins in the bunch, as after Memphis and Oklahoma City, Dallas plays host to the Lakers, the Nets and the Suns.
But bigger than that is dealing with a future with Yogi as a rotation member.
And more immediate than that is dealing with Chandsome as a distant memory.