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The Rockets Daily – February 12, 2014

The Parsons Conundrum - This summer Daryl Morey will face maybe the toughest decision he’s had to make thus far as general manager of the Houston Rockets.  Morey will have to decide if he wants to pick up Chandler Parsons’ option for the fourth and final year of his rookie deal, which would allow him to be an unrestricted free agent for the summer of 2015, or decline and have Parsons enter free agency this summer as a restricted free agent.  Tom Ziller of The Dreamshake:

That $964,000 due in 2014-15 is a team option. If the Rockets pick up that option, Parsons will become an unrestricted free agent in July, 2015. If the Rockets decline the option, Parsons becomes a free agent in July 2014 — a restricted free agent. That means that the Rockets will be able to match any offer sheet Parsons signs. Teams don’t get that luxury with unrestricted free agents. Based on what other players of Parsons’ age and scoring output typically get, Parsons can expect to sign something like a four-year, $36-40 million deal.

So here’s the question Morey has to answer. Does the risk of potentially losing Parsons in 2015 outweigh the benefit of delaying his payday one year?

There are many factors to take into account with that question.  Parsons undeniably has more value in Houston than he would elsewhere.  He’s a key locker room figure and his game perfectly mirrors the franchise’s philosophy.  But he also might have already maxed out his potential.  Most developing players in the NBA have to learn how to be efficient NBA scorers; Parsons came into the league with that game prepackaged.  He avoids the mid-range game completely and typically only take shots at the rim or behind the arc.  And since Parsons isn’t an elite physical talent, his options for improving are more limited than say, Harrison Barnes.  And that’s not to say that Barnes is or ever will be a superior player to Parsons, just that he has the physical talent to push into a different stratosphere were he ever to develop Parsons’ lethal efficiency.  It’s why guys like John Wall get huge extensions before they’ve shown that they’re worthy of them; they are signed for the athleticism and the hope that the efficiency will grow.  Parsons is the invert of that.

So Parsons’ only real options at increasing his worth are to strap down and become an elite defender, construct a post-up game or become an elite outside shooter on the level of someone like Klay Thompson.  Any and all of these scenarios are possible, but it could create a gap at the negotiating table.  Two players comparable to Parsons, Nicolas Batum and Danillo Galinari, each received 4 year deals worth over 40 million dollars.  So how much do you pay a guy who quite possibly might have already peaked as a 24 year old?

And as far as the team option goes, Morey can go the route Ziller proposes and allow Parsons to play out the extent of his rookie contract and enter unrestricted free agency, then pursue him along with the other 29 teams in the league.  But if teams complained that Morey allowed Goran Dragic to leave with no compensation, imagine their reaction to a fan-favorite like Parsons leaving for free.  Or he can rescind the final year of his deal and hold the right of first refusal, allowing them to match any offer Parsons signs elsewhere.  Restricted free agency can be a funny thing, though, as Nikola Pekovic learned this off-season.

Despite being a talented 7-footer, teams were reluctant to sign Pekovic to an offer sheet because it was believed league-wide that Minnesota would match any offer Pekovic signed.  So teams did not want to waste several days with their valuable cap space tied up during the free agency period as Minnesota stalled before eventually matching anyway.  It probably helped drive the price down on what Pekovic could have gotten in an open market, by allowing Minnesota to eventually come to terms with him on their own.  This would be extremely valuable in any Parsons negotiation, so long as the Rockets make it known across the league that resigning him is a top priority.  If Houston is hoping to get any kind of a discount on Parsons’ next deal, this is definitely the way to go.

Either way, Parsons is going to be well paid.  He’s been the poster child for value contracts in the NBA for two years now and he knows it.  His time is due.  There are very serious positives and negatives to either option and Morey has a lot of figuring out to do.  But if the Rockets do decide to pick up his option and keep him for that fourth year, it might be an early indicator that they plan to trade him.  A player that young and talented on that cheap of a deal, even for just one year, is a rare commodity and would be very attractive to any number of teams.  Parsons, some salary-cap filler and a pick or two would be a very enticing package if Morey gets the feeling (or learns this summer) that Parsons has grander aspirations than the Rockets can afford.  The deadline for that decision will be a very interesting crossroads for Morey’s Rockets.

Seeing is Believing - On the Ultimate Rockets, Jenny Dial Creech has a brief post about the value of passing.  It has another quote from passing will set you free Chandler Parsons.  But for the first time (as far as I can tell), we get to hear a bit of James Harden’s thoughts on the matter.

“I think we had 25 assists in the last game,” Harden said. “It shows that we are playing well together. We are doing a job this far but we have a long way to go and its scary how good we can be.”

Preach it, brother.  As Ms. Creech pointed out, the Rockets have averaged 23 assists per game in this six-game winning streak.  Harden missed the first two of those contests, against long time Texas-bullies San Antonio and Dallas.  These sort of comments are common when a team is winning, but maybe Harden has realized that the entire world does not rest on his shoulders offensively.  The fact is Houston is tied for 25th in the league in assist ratio despite this run of late.  But it shows that all the talk about sharing the rock lately hasn’t been hollow.  The team is playing differently since the Spurs game, just like Parsons’ said they were.  And more importantly, Harden is taking note as well.

GOOOOOAAAAAALLLLL - For those of you that don’t know, the Rockets hold the rights to one of the top guards in Europe, currently plying his trade for Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid.  Sergio Llull (pronounced “yool”) is a 26 year old combo-guard that the Rockets purchased from the Denver Nuggets in the 2009 draft for approximately $2.25 million, making him the most expensive player ever to be purchased during the draft’s second round.  This week Llull hit a game winner at the buzzer to win the Copa Del Rey (Spanish championship).

Chances are he won’t be coming to America anytime soon, if ever.  By all accounts, he enjoys Spain and loves playing for Madrid.  But the prospects of him pairing up with James Harden are enough to make me drool.  I’ve poured over his Draft Express page, watched all the highlights from the Copa Del Ray and constantly search for updates on his status.  And I say pair up with Harden because the guy is absolutely an NBA starter.  He’s 6’4, plays defense like a pit-bull, has plenty of 3-point range (as you saw in the video) and his passing ability is the linchpin to his game.  The guy is legit – and his surname is a palindrome!  His Draft Express profile at one time compared him to a Tasmanian devil.

It’s unfortunate that he is already 26, because it may be a few more years before the Rockets are able to convince him to join the NBA.  Llull has not ruled it out, and claims it is a dream to play in the NBA, but does not seem to be in a hurry to test his mettle against the world’s best.  However, rumor has it that his Real Madrid teammate and current top-European prospect, Nikola Mirotic, could be joining the Chicago Bulls this summer.  Perhaps that could nudge Llull in the Rockets direction.

After seeing the impact Patrick Beverley can have so quickly in the Association, imagine a player that matches his defensive intensity but with more length, and has the offensive game of someone like Goran Dragic.  The Rockets have already sunk a substantial amount of money into purchasing his rights; it’s time to get Real Madrid to the bargaining table and buy him out of his contract.  Get that guy to Houston.

New Idea - Be sure to check out the new column on Red94.  Prior to games we are going to reach out to our fellow Truehoop affiliates and trade a few questions/comments and hopefully learn some new things about NBA franchises that might not get too much attention in our neck of the woods.  Our first go at it:  Kyle Weidie of TruthAboutIt.net.

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Total comments: 30
  • Steven says 8 months ago

    Wasnt the Joe Smith situation passing money under the table and not negotiating early? Agents all over the NBA are gauging the climate for their players all the time. I cant imagine thats what that was about

    It was signing a one year deal, while having an extension already worked out due to Bird rights and the cap and everything.
  • timetodienow1234567 says 8 months ago I could see him taking a 3 year 24 mil deal. It allows him access to his money a year earlier while not losing any. I doubt he will get offered more than 12 a year. Plus it would allow him to be on the right side of 30 for his next BIG contract if he gets better.
  • Incubus2803 says 8 months ago

    Wasnt the Joe Smith situation passing money under the table and not negotiating early? Agents all over the NBA are gauging the climate for their players all the time. I cant imagine thats what that was about

  • thejohnnygold says 8 months ago

    They can't have a deal worked out. No one wants a Joe Smith situation again.

    Ha, no kidding! If anyone knows about the Joe Smith situation it's McHale. Still, if Parsons can walk into Morey's office and ask for a raise (which he has) then I presume they can also (privately) discuss how they want to handle re-signing him. Obviously I'm guessing, but it makes sense that they have discussed some ballpark numbers and the possibility of signing him to a long term deal this season versus next.

    We've discussed it before, and there is value for Chandler to take a smaller raise (more cap friendly) and receive it a year earlier than he would if he waits until his contract is up. The money probably winds up the same and it allows the Rockets to remain more competitive long term. Everybody wins!

  • Steven says 8 months ago They can't have a deal worked out. No one wants a Joe Smith situation again.
  • Davealicious says 8 months ago JG, I would love it if they did already have a deal worked out. I'd hate to see CP25 leave. I like to think he's not about chasing the check--I mean, he just seems to be a guy of quality character, so I'd like to think he understands that he has a great situation here in Houston and Morey will (hopefully) take care of him.
  • thejohnnygold says 8 months ago

    If Morey chooses to go the RFA route, what are the chances that another GM around the league will still be ticked off about D12 and Harden in a Rockets uniform and offer to highly overpay Parsons, just to see if Morey matches and limits future financial flexibility to sign other FAs?

    That GM would find out he had made a mistake. Besides, we have to remember that this isn't an auction. You don't bid on the players and automatically gain some kind of ownership. Parsons, as a free agent, must sign an offer sheet before anything matters.

    I am sure he will know Morey's price cap going into it (presuming it gets that far) and he will know that if he signs an offer sheet above X amount of dollars that means he will be leaving Houston.

    I am not concerned about Parsons leaving at all. Where else is he going to go that is a better situation for him and will give him max $? Maybe Atlanta/Orlando/Miami to be closer to home (can they give him max $ though)...other than that, he is in a big market, on a team with great management, that is set to contend for years, with players he likes.

    If memory serves, we will know sooner than later which direction this is heading. I believe Morey has to exercise/not exercise Parsons' option in the next month or so. Personally, I think they have already agreed on a deal (more or less) and are just going through the process.

  • Davealicious says 8 months ago If Morey chooses to go the RFA route, what are the chances that another GM around the league will still be ticked off about D12 and Harden in a Rockets uniform and offer to highly overpay Parsons, just to see if Morey matches and limits future financial flexibility to sign other FAs?
  • Dayak says 8 months ago Typo: win-now mode
  • Dayak says 8 months ago

    Dayak, who were you refering to?

    The Greek guy who was here a year, before going back to Greece with his tail between his legs. Actually the cultural difference bothered him a lot. He was the guy the Rockets traded to the Spurs for the rights to Luis Scola, the Spurs then cut him so he could return to Greece like he wanted too.

    Thanks Steven.

    Well, i watched Llull plays several times on Eurosport channel last year. This guy is a chucker with a low BB IQ, but i have to admit he is a pretty good defender.

    We are in win mode now and i don't think Llull will be an upgrade over Bev and Lin.

  • Sir Thursday says 8 months ago

    The Greek guy who was here a year, before going back to Greece with his tail between his legs. Actually the cultural difference bothered him a lot. He was the guy the Rockets traded to the Spurs for the rights to Luis Scola, the Spurs then cut him so he could return to Greece like he wanted too.

    Vassalis Spanoulis. He's had a pretty successful career over in Europe, it must be said.

    ST

  • Steven says 8 months ago

    Dayak, who were you refering to?

    The Greek guy who was here a year, before going back to Greece with his tail between his legs. Actually the cultural difference bothered him a lot. He was the guy the Rockets traded to the Spurs for the rights to Luis Scola, the Spurs then cut him so he could return to Greece like he wanted too.
  • BrentYen says 8 months ago

    Dayak, who were you refering to?

  • Dayak says 8 months ago He's more effective with the ball than without the ball. He's not a guy you call off-ball-screen for. He's a decent set shooter, but not a spot-up sniper by any means. TBH, i'm affraid he will be our next V Span.
  • It's Dee Way Ferrell says 8 months ago Be honest this evolves around title hopes and aspirations. Imagine winning this year with no third superstar at all of course no trades but we still get the chip it would take hard work and diligence but it can happen not far fetched at all A lot of the things we accomplished this year including records have either equated to either of the championship years. If the Rockets win the chip this year you can nearly bet that Morey pays pardon this summer. 2ndly we do make a trade lose at least half of the weight before next year and fail to when the chip, ufa it is but check this one Parsons take 7-8 mil a year from whoever is left with the Back loaded contract & can probably resign them with mid- level exception money. You have to think like Morey he knows Parsons is hit or miss summer after next but having insurance that if Parsons wants to stay in Houston is like leverage.
    I seen the video of Llul scoring the game winning championship winning basket kind of excited to see more of him in the future. But as for Parsons not a problem win a chip rfa no chip ufa. And you thought it was hard.
  • Buckko says 8 months ago

    We should get a bit of a discount if we go the RFA route.

  • BrentYen says 8 months ago

    I think he will get more than that, or at least he will ask more than that.

  • Buckko says 8 months ago

    Parsons should get around 9-10 million per year not 12.

  • YaoMan says 8 months ago

    Hi there! New to the forum but been following Red94 for a long time now. As far as cap calculations and data here's a link for it:

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/contracts/HOU.html

    I believe Parsons wants to be here and that the Rockets want him equally. I don't think we will overpay him but Morey will offer him a very fair deal and I think they will be able to reach a deal. I don't see Rockets exercising that option and will have an offer sheet for him at that time...

    Parsons will be instrumental to the team's near success in the next few years, make no mistake about that! Morey has a plan and I trust that all parties involved will be heady about this one.

  • kevingan says 8 months ago

    No, Mitchell, I didn't think you were bashing him--we all know he's a rare sort of player. It's just that I happen to be a strong believer in the value of experience in any endeavor, and I think that there are certain players who seem likely to take the most advantage of it, Parsons being one. It's a hard element to see directly, but I like old heads to be around whenever the going gets tough.

    We usually only talk about this in terms of "locker room presence," but I think it's there on the floor too. Someone, I think it was Brian Shaw, recently talked about the difference veterans make on a team: pointing to the difference between this year's Knicks and last year's, he said you might not have thought Kurt Thomas and Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby and Kidd were doing very much, but take them off the team and instead of being 20 games over .500, you're 20 games under! Probably a slight overestimation there, but I think it's a shrewd point for the most part, and that's what I was getting at.

    Plus I freely admit that I have a hard time with all the cap calculations and their implications, so I bow to you on that element!

  • Mitchell Felker says 8 months ago

    Kevin, Jason Kidd developed a new skill as he got older. He went from being a below average shooter to making the most 3s in NBA history. That was kind of my point on Parsons. He doesn't have any obvious holes in his game to plug like Kidd did, so where will that big improvement occur? Defense seems like the most logical choice, and I could see him moving into the 40% range from deep, but to still be a value at 10+ million a year he would have to improve substantially. And 10+ is what he's likely to make.

    Battier had the same game from day one (like Parsons) but there was never a question about his value. Not that there really is with Parsons, but Battier provided EVERYTHING to the teams he played for. Parsons is a little more limited in scope.

    And I hope you don't think I was bashing Parsons by any means. I love the guy and what he brings. I went so far as to say he's the

    captain of the locker room. I would just be weary of giving him a 4 year, 48 million dollar deal if thats what it would take to match an offer. MIght seem like an overpay down the road and could cost the Rockets a star number 3 in 2015 if we Parsons all that money this summer.

    Im glad it's not my decision, because I have no idea what I would do. In Morey we trust.

  • Mitchell Felker says 8 months ago

    Rager, to hold someone's Bird rights, you have to have to offer them a tender, meaning that you have to place a cap hold for a set amount for their roster spot even though they are technically a free agent. Coming off a second round pick contract i can't imagine Parsons having a very big cap hold, but I don't know the specifics. So you could sign someone and then go over the cap with Parsons in theory, but the first contract would have to fit under the cap. And since we gave Harden our one five year deal, we don't have much of the extra incentives that come with holding Parsons' Bird Rights. Trades are easier because as long as it abides by the new CBA and its before any Parsons signing/extension, you can go over with Chandler's new deal. So it is an option absolutely; but the timing and order of the moves have to work and Parsons may have to show some patience and understanding for what the Rockets are trying to do.

  • Steven says 8 months ago I have been on the Llull bandwagon for years. And I hate Real Madrid.
  • miketheodio says 8 months ago

    paying parsons in the offseason doesn't sound too bad when the salary cap is going to be higher than expected. you might have to pay a small tax for a year. the salary cap will continue to rise and asik/lin's contracts end in 2015. no long term budget problems.

  • Mr. Rager says 8 months ago I was under the impression that we would sign or trade for one more piece then use Parson's bird rights to sign him over our cap. Is that no longer an option?
  • Cooper says 8 months ago Id like to see them add one more significant piece with the cap space available next summer and pay parsons later. I just think they are a little short of being able to beat okc and you don't want to get capped out in that position
  • kevingan says 8 months ago

    I disagree that Parsons may have hit his ceiling, because so much of his game comes from his intelligence: that's a part of your game that actually can get better and better, and you don't need to jump to the ceiling to exercise it. Look at players like Jason Kidd or Shane Battier in their middle and even late 30s: Parsons has a chance to be that kind of presence on a team, and that's what wins championships.

    It would be idiotic to let him go, and Morey's not an idiot last time I looked! YMMV, but I'd say he's indispensable to this team, now and for about another decade or more, barring injury.

  • Buckko says 8 months ago

    Sign Parsons as a RFA. You don't take the risk.

  • rocketrick says 8 months ago Good Stuff Mitchell. You've had some really outstanding Dailies and I always enjoy perusing those!

    In regards to Parsons, my take is the Rockets let him explore free agency this season and match. Could a Harrison Barnes type theoretically become a more effective player? It could happen. But more times than not, IT DOES NOT HAPPEN. With Parsons, the Rockets have a floor in that position with likely expectations he can make enough improvements to make it worthwhile for the Rockets to retain him.

    Parsons is also the perfect example of potential success in the NBA for future Rockets second-round picks. If they simply let him go after next season as an unrestricted free agent, what does that tell future second-round picks about the Rockets and their player development plans, etc.? Perhaps the next super successful second-round pick will have to eventually be lost to free agency, but I just don't see the Rockets going that route in this instance. There is just too much downside in my opinion, especially factoring in Parson's important glue effects with the current lineup. Besides, the Rockets can afford to pay Parsons. Lin and Asik go off the cap after next season which is nearly $17 million right there.

    It makes Morey sense to have a Rockets core of Harden, D12 and Parsons and build around them. TJones and Motiejunas have cap friendly contracts going forward. The Rockets have a lot of flexibility with their PG position going forward as AB is signed only through the end of this season, Lin's deal expires next season and Beverley's cap friendly deal expires the season after Lin. I'm glad you made a point to update all of us on Llull's progress. I have always hoped the Rockets would eventually bring him to Houston. That opportunity may come sooner than later and again, probably a fairly reasonable cap friendly contract.

    And we can't forget about the continued development of Canaan and Covington in the D-League and perhaps witnessing their contributions to the Rockets team as soon as next season.

    Lastly, Leslie Alexander is the type of Team Owner who will pay the luxury tax for a couple of seasons, if necessary. I would imagine Leslie is more than ready to hoist that O'Brien Trophy sooner than later.

    Much to look forward to as a Rockets fan the rest of this season as well as the upcoming 3-4 seasons!!
  • BrentYen says 8 months ago

    Man....I really wanna seeLlull in action in NBA.....he is a very good player.

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