In the start of an exchange with Pounding the Rock's J.R. Wilco (look for a post on the site this weekend), I wrote about the ongoing Chandler Parsons vs. James Harden debate.
Like many arguments, this one is quickly becoming more and more petty. Neither side is wrong, and yet they both continue to provoke the situation (Harden was even replying to tweets this morning about him and Parsons).
J.R., you have the right idea. Parsons expected to be back and was upset Houston didn't view him as a third star. He's a confident young player who is very good at basketball. Even though he's not a star, you can't fault him for thinking he is or will be. What's his alternative? "Yeah, I've hit my peak as a player. In fact, I probably overachieved last season." That's just silly.
Harden's right, too. He and Dwight are the two cornerstones in Houston, and especially with Daryl Morey as the general manager, all other players are just rotating parts that orbit around those two. He's a bit of an asshole for saying it publicly and he probably lost some teammate points, but again, nobody's saying he's wrong.
I don't think either player went out of their way to make the comments -- Harden was asked after a public appearance and Parsons' radio interviews were already booked -- but please, let's hope they settle for a simple "no comment" next time. Neither guy is going to "win" this argument, but say something slightly out of line and we could very quickly have a loser.
I'm here to elaborate a little. Chandler Parsons, at this moment, is not a star. He's a very good player with room to grow, and he said just that in a 1310 The Ticket interview this afternoon: he's not a star, but he hopes to get there one day.
He's 25, so it certainly could happen. My Houston friends assure me that he's just about as good as he's going to get on offense. They very well might be right. That's not the point.
In 2011, we all know how the Mavericks won the championship. Dirk was the superstar at the core of it all, and everybody else settled in around him. He had a lot of really good players with roles that fit the team perfectly. For the Dallas front office of the past decade, it was the strategy that made sense. They were very good at failing not catching any big fish, but excellent at using the middle and lower tiers of free agency to their benefit, just like we once again saw this summer.
On the other hand, Daryl Morey is excellent at making the big move. He started in 2007 with two All Stars, Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. He watched them fall apart with injuries, and so he retooled his roster. He made the blockbuster deal for James Harden, and then he convinced Dwight to come last summer.
Morey made it clear he wants a third superstar, and considering the success that "Big Three's" have had in the past decade, who can blame him? That's his style of team building, and for Parsons simply didn't fit at the price Dallas could give him. He wasn't the third star he was looking for.
A few people have made the assumption that Dallas thinks Parsons will turn into a star, which is why they had no qualms about paying him $15 million a year. But how much better the Mavericks think Parsons can get is inconsequential. As nice as it'd be, they don't need him to be a star. They need him to fit into the role they give him, and on this squad as the third option, he can do exactly that.
The other thing worth noting is that James Harden is no Dirk Nowitzki. Harden can win a championship, but he could never do what Dirk did in 2011. The number of players in NBA history who could do that is probably in single digits. Both are superstars, but not all superstars are created equal.
Hopefully, this overhyped Parsons-Harden "beef" is over now. Parsons was nothing but complimentary to Houston in his radio interview this afternoon, and he's about to spend some quality time with his buddy Harden during the Team USA training camp. Hopefully, they slap hands and laugh about how everybody thought this was a big deal.
Parsons wasn't the right guy for Houston, and for that, Dallas offers up a sincere "thank you."