Chandler Parsons has reached an agreement with the Dallas Mavericks on a three year, $45 million deal. That’s greater than a 1,500% increase in salary. Houston will now have 72 hours to match the offer, but Dallas has put them in a very interesting situation, as Houston's after free agent Chris Bosh, who is waiting for LeBron James’ decision before he decides if he will go to Houston or Miami.
If Houston matches Parsons’ offer, they likely can’t afford Bosh. So unless LeBron makes up his mind in the next 72 hours, Houston has a tough choice to make.
Dallas, meanwhile, is in a win-win situation. If Houston matches, they can’t go after a big free agent like Chris Bosh, and will be extremely limited in improving their team from last year. If they don’t, then Dallas is acquiring a very good player in an area of need for a reasonable price.
The $15 million per year deal is a hefty price tag for a player who was the third-best scoring option on his team last year, but don’t be fooled - Parsons is worth it. Our own Russell Peddle gave a great explanation on why Parsons is free agency’s best consolation prize after LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. To summarize, Parsons had a nERD score of 3.9, ranking him eighth among small forwards in our player power rankings this year, with the only LeBron and Carmelo ranking above him at the position.
Fit in Dallas
Last season, Shawn Marion started 76 games for the Mavericks. At first glance, Marion and Parsons’ contributions look fairly similar outside of the fact that Parsons scored a bit more. Therefore, one might ask why Dallas is bringing in someone at $15 million when they can pay Marion less than half of that. Let’s take a closer look.
Parsons had almost four times as many fouls drawn, and shot more than three times as many free throws. The truth is, Parsons can put the ball on the floor and create for himself while Marion is fairly limited to others creating shots for him. Parsons was driving to the basket more and getting easy points at the free throw line. His ability to handle the ball also allowed him to average four assists and his passing ability will make him much more useful in Dallas’ flow offense. Rick Carlisle is arguably one of the best coaches in the NBA right now and he will be able to do a lot more with Parsons that he was able to do with Marion.
We can also see from our own nERD metric that Parsons’ total contribution greatly exceeded Marion’s. The nERD metric is supposed to measure how many wins a player adds to a team if they played with average players, meaning Marion took away 1.1 wins from the Mavericks while Parsons added 3.9 wins to the Rockets. The Mavs finished eighth in the West last season, but if they had Parsons over Marion, we would have expected them to finish with an extra five wins – putting them in a tie for fourth place with possible home court advantage in the first round. Dallas isn't the only team that will pay $15 million per year for that luxury.
Marion is 36 years old and on the decline. It’s highly unlikely he averages 31.7 minutes per game in a season again. Parsons, on the other hand, has been steadily improving in his three season in the NBA and is only 25 years old.
As you can see, Parsons has improved in most categories every year so far. If the trend continues, Parsons has every chance to be a very good second tier small forward behind the first tier of LeBron, Carmelo, and Kawhi Leonard for years to come. Some of the other free agents only have two to three years left in their prime (Luol Deng and Trevor Ariza).
With an arguably inferior talent in Gordon Hayward getting a four year, $63 million offer on the market, Parsons was bound to get a similar contract. Early projections had similar players like Luol Deng and Trevor Ariza getting in the $8 to $12 million per year range, but I can’t see either of them signing for less than $10 million at this point in time. The demand for three-point shooting small forwards that can drive to the basket and handle the ball is very high, and the price is starting to reflect that.
Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks are getting an extremely good player who can compete on both sides of the floor. A starting lineup of Raymond Felton, Monta Ellis, Chandler Parsons, Dirk Nowitzki, and Tyson Chandler will be able to challenge for a top four spot in the Western Conference. And $15 million is a reasonable price to pay for the difference between fighting for a playoff spot and being in the top four. On the other hand, Parsons is finally getting the money he deserves and gets to play on a playoff team. It's a win-win.