The best part of the deal — so far — was the photo.So impish. So presumptuous. So Cuban. So expensive, too. Maybe. But only time and the Houston Rockets will decide that.Tweeted late Wednesday night by, it seems, Chandler Parsons’ good bro Daniel Morgan — Twitter handle @DmoSwag — the grainy photo shows Parsons out on the town with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. Mr. DmoSwag, whose Twitter profile describes him as, “Livin’ Life Like a Volcano,” included the message, “Pay the Guy!!!,” which Cuban is attempting to do at the rate of $46 million over three years.Because Parsons is an NBA restricted free agent, the Rockets can choose to match the Mavericks’ offer and keep the 25-year-old shooting forward. Cuban knows that. The photo, though, says so much more.It says that Cuban, basketball operations chief Donnie Nelson and the Mavericks number crunchers have done their free agent and salary cap homework. They know the financial dominoes that would have to fall into place and the signatures that would have to be affixed in order for Rockets general manager Daryl Morey to be able to match the Parsons offer.Plus, there is a three-day window for the Rockets to get it all done, a deadline that includes, most NBA people think, the nationwide wait for LeBron James. I’ll leave my Star-Telegram colleague, Dwain Price, to describe elsewhere on these pages the Rockets’ daunting to-do list. Houston had already announced its intention of signing Miami’s Chris Bosh to a max money contract. But that reportedly depends upon what LeBron decides, and maybe how much cash Bosh is willing to give back in order for the Rockets to have enough salary cap space to re-sign Parsons. The Heat could also help Houston by agreeing to a sign-and-trade with Bosh.But why would they want to do that?Hence, the late-night Cuban-Parsons photo, perhaps the first one ever circulated on the Internet of two guys celebrating the signing of a restricted free agent offer sheet.The Rockets, it seems, can either pay Bosh or pay Parsons. All Thursday reports to the contrary, they’re probably not going to be able to pull enough strings and shake enough hands to do both — not in 72 hours. Time for a brief history lesson:Remember 12 months ago, when the Rockets outbid the Mavericks for the services of free agent Dwight Howard? Hours after that announcement, Morey reportedly sent Cuban a text, asking if the Mavs wanted to send Dirk Nowitzki along to sweeten the deal. Dirk!As reported by Tim McMahon on ESPNDallas.com, Cuban reflected a few months later that he understood Morey was trying to rub the Mavericks’ noses in it for winning the battle for Howard.“I don’t blame them,” Cuban told McMahon. “That’s fine. But payback is a b----.”Suddenly, Wednesday night’s photo doesn’t appear so grainy, does it?The debate on the Houston radio talk shows Thursday seemed to center around whether Parsons is worth $46 million. If the Rockets get Bosh, that answer probably is no, not to Houston. But to the Mavericks, at 6-foot-9, Parsons would add a dynamic presence that would elevate them into a championship contender. Parsons is athletic, he can shoot and rebound, he can run the floor and, at 25, he’s going to get better.The timing on all this was Shark Tank genius. Put up or shut up. A delay Thursday, allegedly to allow Morey time to concoct a sign-and-trade scenario, proved to be only a brief one. Realizing that the Mavericks were out of the dream LeBron sweepstakes, Cuban was tired of waiting. Hence, the photo.Yes, payback is.
Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @gilebreton