Dallas Mavericks

July 10, 2014

In game of ‘NBA poker,’ Mavericks put their cards down on Parsons

Dallas gambles that the Houston Rockets don’t match their offer to Chandler Parsons and force Plan B.

The acquisition of Chandler Parsons certainly won’t set off the Richter scale and create the type of nationwide hysteria of a LeBron James.

But if the Dallas Mavericks are able to beat the odds and secure the services of Parsons, this will be the biggest free-agent haul of a player from another team in the franchise’s 34-year history.

The Mavs signed Parsons to a three-year, $46 million offer sheet Thursday afternoon with hopes that the Houston Rockets’ restricted free agent can find his way onto their roster and fill their pressing need for a scoring small forward. Houston has until 11 p.m. Sunday to match the offer or lose Parsons to the Mavericks without compensation.

In his offer sheet, Parsons will get $14.7 million next season, $15.36 million during the 2015-16 season, and he has a player option that could pay him $16.02 million for the 2016-17 season.

Reports out of Houston indicate that the Rockets will match the offer. And if the Rockets do, , the Mavericks would look to acquire unrestricted free agent small forwards Luol Deng or Trevor Ariza.

“I tell you, we’ve got a lot of grease boards in that office up there with lots of different scenarios,” said Donnie Nelson, the Mavericks’ president of basketball operations. “I can’t tell you which scenario is going to pan out, but one of them is going to pan out.

“We will have a small forward with the Mavericks next year — guaranteed. We have some pretty good ones in the mix now, too. Our worst-case scenario is giving young Jae Crowder an opportunity.”

However, acquiring Parsons remains the Mavericks’ best-case scenario. The 6-foot-9, 227-pound three-year veteran is as versatile as they come and provides unique talent at both ends of the floor.

“We obviously have a big hole at the small forward spot and he’s the top, if not one of the top guys, on the list,” Nelson said. “I’ve certainly always been a fan, and he’s the right fit.

“He plays old-school basketball. He can pass it, he can put it down, he can shoot it, shoot the deep ball, really good size, and so it’s a really good fit within our system.”

Parsons, 25, averaged 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists while playing 37.6 minutes a game last season. He also shot 47.2 percent from the field, 37 percent from 3-point range and averaged 1.2 steals.

It’s the first time in recent years that the Mavericks have reached out and signed a restricted free agent, but they believe Parsons is worth the risk.

“In terms of free agency, whether it’s restricted or unrestricted, you’re always looking for the top guys,” Nelson said. “This was just a really good fit for us in a lot of respects in terms of chemistry and upside.”

The Rockets also are in hot pursuit of Miami Heat free-agent power forward Chris Bosh.

If LeBron James leaves Miami and signs with Cleveland, Bosh is expected to leave the Heat and sign a free-agent contract with Houston. Under terms of the collective bargaining agreement, the Rockets can sign Bosh first and exceed the NBA’s new $63.065 million salary cap to sign Parsons.

However, before getting Bosh, the Rockets must trade Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik, waive a few players who have non-guaranteed contracts, plus make some other roster cuts. And if the Rockets decide to match the Mavericks’ offer sheet to Parsons before signing Bosh, they would exceed the salary cap and thus be unable to sign Bosh.

Meanwhile, the Mavericks are risking the chance of losing Parsons to the Rockets, and also have their Plan B — Deng or Ariza — get antsy and sign elsewhere. But they’re more than willing to take that gamble.

“It’s the price of NBA poker,” Nelson said. “We throw our card down and you’ve got three days to see if it’s going to get matched.”

If the Mavericks win the Chandler Parsons Sweepstakes, he will replace Shawn Marion in the starting lineup. In the meantime, Nelson isn’t sure if the 36-year-old Marion, who is an unrestricted free agent, will be back with Dallas.

“With all of our guys, it’s what’s out there, it’s what are they willing to take to come back,” Nelson said. “It’s a free market and it’s a market that literally changes by the day.

“And so those situations, I think, just have to kind of pan themselves out a little bit.”

The Mavericks also would like Vince Carter to return, possibly for the team’s $2.7 million salary cap exception. In addition, Nelson said they want to secure a deal for free-agent guard Mo Williams.

“Vince has got all kinds of options and we’re happy to know that we’re still on the list and we just have to see how things pan out,” Nelson said. “He’s obviously not just a terrific basketball player, but a great person and we’re going to do everything in our power to get him back to be a Maverick next year.”

While the Mavericks don’t expect any hiccups on the three-year, $30 million commitment to Dirk Nowitzki and the four-year, $12 million deal for Devin Harris, they also are giddy about the prospect of having Parsons next season and beyond.

“We’ve always liked guys that are multi-skilled and know what to do when they don’t have the ball, triple-threat and all those old-school things,” Nelson said in describing Parsons. “It’s a really good fit for us, and we’ll just have to sweat it out for three days.’’

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