The plan, as the Dallas Mavericks so eloquently stated on numerous occasions last season, is to find a way for Dirk Nowitzki to spend the twilight years of his spectacular career as the team’s second-best player.
The big question now is whether that plan has been executed with this week’s acquisition of Chandler Parsons.
Parsons has the talent, passion and wherewithal to become a star in the mold of a Nowitzki. Only time will tell if he has the tenacity and backbone to hoist a team on his shoulders and carry it to a championship.
Parsons is confident he can blossom into being the face of a franchise, even if the Houston Rockets didn’t think he was talented enough to be their third wheel behind Dwight Howard and James Harden.
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“I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface as to how good I can be,” Parsons said. “I’m an extremely hard worker, and I’m going to keep getting better and better every single day.”
One of Parsons’ goals is to continue silencing his critics. They’ve been shadowing the 6-foot-9, 227-pound small forward since his high school days in Winter Park, Fla., and then when he played at Florida from 2007-11.
“They didn’t think I could be a [Division] I [player], didn’t think I would get drafted — and I was a second-round pick,” Parsons said. “So I’ve always kind of been that underdog, and I play and practice with that chip on my shoulders to continue to prove people wrong. I’ll continue to do that here, and I look forward to it.”
The Mavericks believe Parsons’ has tremendous upside but didn’t want to tackle the issue of whether he could become the face of the franchise.
“I don’t think there’s really a one, two or three,” said Donnie Nelson, the team’s president of basketball operations. “I think the way we’ve done it since I’ve been here is you try to get the most talented guys.
“When we won the championship, Dirk was clearly our No. 1 player, but we had a really good solid cast of eight to nine other guys that really mesh well and worked well together. I think that’s kind of been what we’ve created here.”
Parsons has a nice mid-range jumper and 3-point game, and he can play inside. He can attack the defensive boards and dart down the floor with the ball.
In other words, Parsons is a weapon the Mavs haven’t had in their arsenal in many years. And he’s only 25.
“He’s entering his prime, and he’s gotten better by the year,” Nelson said. “So it’s really an exciting added piece for us because again this summer we wanted to get more talent, and we wanted to be able to be younger. And this is a step toward that.”
The Mavs signed Parsons to a three-year, $46 million contract on Tuesday after the Rockets refused to match an offer sheet presented on behalf of the restricted free agent last week.
Parsons is one of 19 players invited to Las Vegas this week to try out for one of the 12 spots on the USA Basketball team. NBA also-rans do not receive invitations to such an event.
“That’s incredible,” Parsons said. “That’s a huge goal of mine, and I’m extremely flattered and honored to be invited to that. I hope to go there and make the Dallas Mavericks proud and make my family proud and just compete as hard as I can and put myself in the best possible situation to make that team. And whatever happens from there, I’ll deal with it.”
Parsons’ contract allows him to become a free agent after the 2015-16 season. But the Mavs expect him to be with their franchise for many years and hope he’ll be able to attract big-name free agents to Dallas.
“I think with my personality and my relationship with a lot of the guys in the league, I think I can definitely do that,” Parsons said. “It’ll be fun — if I do opt out in two years — I’ll have the chance to go out there and do that.
“But even if I don’t, three years from now, I fully am ready to do whatever this organization needs me to do and talk to any players that they’re interested in and try to convince them to come and play with the core we’ve got.”
Spoken like a true cornerstone with tremendous upside.
Blair to Wizards
The Mavs signed free agent center DeJuan Blair to a three-year, $6 million contract on Wednesday and then shipped him to the Washington Wizards for a trade exception. The third year of the sign-and-trade contract is a team option.
In his only year with the Mavs last season, Blair averaged 6.4 points and 4.7 rebounds in 15.6 minutes per game. The fifth-year veteran also was effective against the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs.