When Chandler Parsons leaves the Mavericks this summer, as it seems he will, it’s going to make a lot of people happy.
Parsons will be happy, since it’ll be his flourish on a dotted line of a multi-million contract. The team who signs him will be happy, since they’ll be acquiring a versatile forward who fits anywhere and boasts no real holes in his game when healthy. And it’ll make a large swath of Mavericks fans happy, since there’s a growing vocal minority (or perhaps a majority now) who wants nothing to do with the flashy star.
Free agency is still days away and ruling out a return from Parsons is premature, of course. Parsons has loved his time in Dallas and is one of Dirk Nowitzki’s biggest fans. But as the Mavericks prepare to prioritize Mike Conley and Hassan Whiteside -- a scenario that, if successful, wouldn’t leave them with enough money to bring him back — Parsons isn’t going to dutifully wait on Dallas’ master plan to work or not.
It’s a bizarre turn from the summer of 2014, when Mavericks fans celebrated Parsons’ signing as if they were at the nightclub where he signed the offer sheet with Mark Cuban. And while I understand some of the fan sentiments from Parsons’ fall from grace, I’m not sure I agree.
Parsons doesn’t owe Dallas a discount
Dirk Nowitzki is an angel straight from heaven, and in 2014, he took a paycut worth millions to help the Mavericks compete for top free agents. With that said, he did this on his own volition, with more than $200 million already earned throughout his NBA career.
There’s a subset of Mavericks fans who criticize Parsons for not doing the same. Not taking a pay cut when Nowitzki did somehow proves that Parsons is selfish and doesn’t care about Dallas, they say. What’s worse is that the Mavericks might believe it. Mark Cuban tried convincing Parsons to pick up his $16.9-million player option, and while Cuban has an understandable responsibility for the business side, he had to know how ridiculous it was. Parsons is in line for a max contract, and he should be. If the Mavericks offered it, Parsons would take it — it just doesn’t appear they are.
Parsons would take the max from the Mavs right away if they offered it, @espn_macmahon said. but it really seems they won't.— Tim Cato (@tim_cato) June 27, 2016
And why should Parsons take a paycut? He hasn’t made the money Nowitzki has in his career and he’s only been in Dallas two seasons. Asking him to do anything but maximize his earnings is ridiculous. If you disagree, you go take a pay cut at your job first, and then get back to me.
Parsons is a max contract player
There are legitimate concerns about Parsons’ knee, and if the Mavericks aren’t willing to give him a max contract because of that, they’re completely within their rights not to. But if they feel Parsons isn’t "worth" a max contract, they’re wrong.
Free agency has never been about what a player will definitively provide for your team, because it’s impossible to predict that. Contracts aren’t based on past production, but future expectations. Teams set the market, and if multiple teams are willing to "overpay" for a player, suddenly he’s not being overpaid. That’s just the price he should get.
Clearly, there are players who make too much and there’s the two-time MVP of the league who is barely making more than $10 million per year. That’s value. Don’t conflate it with the open free agency market, which is different. To acquire a player of Parsons’ worth, with his expected production, you must pay him a max contract. That’s what his price has been set at, so that’s how it works.
Parsons isn’t gaming the system or doing anything unsavory. He’s 6’10 and is one of just four or five players in the NBA with true point forward skills. He’s a desirable target, and a fantastic player when healthy. If the Mavericks aren’t willing to pay the price because they’re concerned about the knees, that’s their prerogative. But they can’t change a price that has already been set.
Evan Fournier may get a max contract this summer. Kent Bazemore might be earning $16 to $18 million. Bradley Beal’s way more injured than Parsons, and he’s getting the max. Would anyone rather max Harrison Barnes over Parsons? What about Marvin Williams at $17 million instead of Parsons? We could go on and on, but the point is this: if you want a free agent this summer, you have to pay.
Parsons isn’t to blame for ‘not living up to his contract’
This is another prevalent opinion that Parsons "squandered" the Mavericks money over these past two seasons. Parsons had two disappointing seasons, no doubt! He wished he could have finished those two seasons more than any of us on the outside. But seeing him as a disappointment because of his contract is a strawman argument.
Again, the Mavericks signed Parsons to a 3-year, $46-million contract two seasons ago because they had expectations for what he could do. A contract is not a guarantee of production — which, on a side note, is why Whiteside is a scary free agent target. No, Dallas brought in Parsons on a near-max deal believing in what he could do, but knowing it might not work out.
As we all know, Parsons got injured. He busted up his knee two seasons ago, and the recovery and long, in-season rehab process led to some very frustrating months last year. But Brandon Roy didn’t get blamed for "not living up to his contract" when his knee injuries nearly crippled him, and it certainly wasn’t Paul George’s fault his leg snapped during that Team USA game. Injuries are awful, but we sympathize with players who can’t stay healthy, not blame them.
Parsons lived up to his contract when healthy. Acting like it was his fault he got injured these past two seasons is crazy logic.
Parsons brings some of this upon himself
With all that said, Parsons has absolutely rubbed some people the wrong way. It’d be hard not to: he’s rich, famous, attractive and extremely confident in himself. Sometimes, that borders on arrogance. Certainly, you can’t help but feel jealous from time to time if you follow him on Instagram. You might be pissed off when he posts a selfie with the scorned DeAndre Jordan, as if friendships can’t exist among NBA stars. (And yes, posting that photo might not have been the most diplomatic move. He must have known that.)
Parsons’ work ethic will probably never be described in the same breath as Dirk Nowitzki’s, either. He enjoys life, takes vacations and isn’t "in love with the game," nor should he be. Make no mistake: Parsons has put thousands of hours into this game, probably much more than a 40-hour work week. Every NBA player has put more time than you could ever realize behind their game. But sure, Parsons is a regular at bars in Uptown, and there are fans who would rather see players locked into a gym with an ankle monitor who can’t forgive him for that — or maybe, just can’t forgive him for being so public about it.
None of that changes the fact that, as Parsons said this morning, "I’m really good at basketball." And it doesn’t change the fact that the Mavericks are pursuing a dream of two max free agents instead of locking up the one they know would return. Are we even sure Mike Conley is that big of an improvement over a healthy Parsons? But that’s a discussion for another time.
Chandler Parsons doesn’t owe the Mavericks a discount, or anything less than a max contract. He didn’t owe the Mavericks two healthy seasons just because they gave him a lot of money, either, because injuries are an unfortunate reality in this profession. In the end, Parsons doesn’t owe the Mavericks shit.