It feels like we've said everything there is to say about Chandler Parsons coming to Dallas this offseason, but talking about him on the Mavericks is fun, so let's say some more stuff anyway.
Looking at last year
At the start of the 2013-2014 season, Parsons seemed well-positioned to play an important long-term role on an emerging contender, but after a disappointingly brief appearance in the playoffs and a very public break-up with the Rockets... well, Parsons once again finds himself poised to play an important long-term role on an emerging contender.
The difference is that Dallas expects that role to be much bigger. Parsons may have been a starter for the Rockets, but his role in their fast-paced offensive scheme was almost always as the third option. As Sports Illustrated detailed earlier this week, Parsons frequently acted as Harden's emergency release valve, getting the ball after Harden isolations went awry. He still managed to shoot nearly 43 percent from three, contributing 15.9 points per 36 on generally efficient shooting and smart shot selection. He also honed his passing skills, earning himself the second-best assist to turnover ratio among small forwards in the league (especially impressive considering his competition at that position includes both LeBron James and Kevin Durant).
While Parsons wasn't the sort of defensive player who showed up on anyone's Top 10 list, he was never a liability. He stayed out of foul trouble and generally did his job at both ends of the court.
So what can we expect to see from him this year?
Best Case Scenario
Best case? Parsons thrives in an expanded role on offense, and performs better than expected on defense.
There are a number of reasons to be optimistic about Parsons's fit in Dallas. While he's not an obvious across-the-board upgrade from Shawn Marion, he's only 25 and, unlike the Matrix, on the right side of his prime. He's gotten better each of his three years in the league, and, at this point in his career, expectations of continued improvement are completely reasonable.
After two seasons of solid work as the third option on Houston's run-and-gun offense, Parsons is looking forward to playing both a larger and a more strategic role in Dallas' offense. As he told Sports Illustrated earlier this week, "Offensively, this system right here is perfect for a guy like me with a lot of up-and-down, a lot of free-flowing offense... I think the offense is perfect for me here and I think I'll really enjoy playing with the guys who are going to be with me."
That's what you'd expect to hear from any new player in town, but Parsons has spoken more specifically about the appeal of playing for Rick Carlisle, who's generally regarded as one of the greatest tacticians in the league. Although he's ribbed him for showing up a little out of shape, Carlisle obviously plans to make good use of Parsons' skill set and is already working on adjusting his form to improve his consistency.
Any talk of downside in replacing Marion with Parsons has focused primarily on Marion's strong perimeter defense, but it's not crazy to be hopeful about Parsons' capabilities on that end of the floor, especially since he wasn't playing in a particularly strong defensive system in Houston. He doesn't have Marion's rebounding ability, but like Marion, he stays away from dumb fouls and is better than the Matrix at defending the rim, a skill that could prove useful if he's asked to play power forward this year.
Worst Case Scenario
And the worst case? It's not so bad. At worst (obviously excluding scenarios involving injuries), Parsons' offensive ceiling is lower than expected, and he fails to make significant improvements on defense. He's already a solidly above-average player, and although his three-year, $46 million contract will feel a little steep if he fails to improve, it's slightly back-loaded and could be partially ameliorated by the anticipated increases in the salary cap in 2016-17.
Rock star or role player?
Chandler Parsons came to Dallas largely lured by the promise of being a star, not just a role player. And while he should get the chance to shine in Rick Carlisle's offense, he'll almost certainly still be playing third fiddle in the minds of fans, with a healthy Dirk still going strong and beloved 2011 title team member Tyson Chandler back in town. Will approximately $15 million a year and more plays called for him be enough for Parsons, or will he still want more?