According to sources familiar with the situation, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reports the Rockets will decline the fourth year team option on Chandler Parsons. The Rockets have until June 30 to decline the option making Parsons a restricted free agent on July 1.
With the move, Rockets GM Daryl Morey is planning ahead of Parsons’ unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2015. This way, rather than delaying the inevitable by paying the borderline all-star a grossly unfair $964,750 (per Shamsports.com) next season as part of the final year of his rookie deal, the Rockets can match any offer Chandler gets on the open market as a restricted free agent and then re-sign him to a long-term deal.
Quick tangent: if you’re an NBA GM who stumbles across a talent like Parsons in the second round, why would you not originally offer the fourth year team option, like Morey did? Better to cover your bases than lose out on a second-round diamond.
Woj explains the thinking behind the move in more detail:
For the Rockets, there are two distinct advantages to letting Parsons into restricted free agency now. First, Houston is determined to clear the necessary salary cap space this summer to chase a third maximum contract free agent to join Dwight Howard and James Harden, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
Houston plans to pursue the major stars who could be available upon opting out of deals, including Miami’s LeBron James and Chris Bosh, and New York’s Carmelo Anthony, league sources said. Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki is expected to be a target too.
The Rockets are pursuing Minnesota’s Kevin Love in trade talks too, and Parsons could hold sign-and-trade possibilities.
In one scenario, the Rockets could add one of the third max-level players mentioned above, then re-sign Parsons to something below the max-level range. League executives believe Parsons could demand $10-12 million per year.
With the move, Houston is preventing Parsons’ agent Dan Fegan from possibly negotiating a near max-level contract for him as an unrestricted free agent next summer. They’re also giving him his payday a year early, which will be a nice bargaining chip in negotiations. The Rockets could have had him at a discount for one more year, but they want to clear space to make a run at some of the stars who may be available this summer.
Parsons has surprised many prognosticators since getting drafted by the Rockets in the second round of the 2011 Draft (No. 38 overall). He averaged career highs of 16.6 points and 5.5 rebounds in 37.6 minutes per game this season with Houston, and has seen his player efficiency rating and win shares improve in each of his first three years.
On the surface this seems like a crazy move, but when you dig a little deeper, the savvy prescience of Morey shines through yet again.
Did the Rockets make the right move?
Follow Spencer on Twitter at @SpencerTyrel.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.