Now that Dirk Nowitzki, Chandler Parsons and Deron Williams have all officially decided to opt-out of the last year of their contract and become an unrestricted free agent, the Dallas Mavericks have some big-time business decisions to make.
Nowitzki, Parsons and Williams are all valuable commodities. But the Mavericks only went 42-40 with this trio in their starting lineup this past season, and they clearly need an impactful rebounder and defender such as Houston Rockets free agent center Dwight Howard if they plan on getting back in the NBA championship conversation before Nowitzki retires.
But if the Mavericks are at Howard’s doorstep when the free agent clock starts at 11:01 p.m. on June 30, representatives from other teams might be at the doorstep of Nowitzki and Parsons at the same time. And will they flinch and offer Howard a $30 million-a-year contract?
Because he has so much history and has saved them untold millions with repeated hometown discounts, I feel safe in saying that Nowitzki won’t commit to play elsewhere until he waits and sees what diamonds the Mavericks can uncover in free agency. After that, he’ll re-sign with the Mavericks, since they’ll never go into rebuilding mode as long as he’s on their roster.
And since Williams was more than delighted to return home last summer to play for the Mavericks, it’s safe to say he’ll be in no rush to pack up and leave town if someone throws a few extra millions his way.
But Chandler Parsons? Now that’s another story.
Ever since the Mavericks signed him to a three-year, $46 million restricted free agent contract in the summer of 2014 after the Rockets made that restricted free agency situation possible, Parsons has felt that he belongs in that financial category and that he belongs in the same class of the upper echelon players. And you can’t blame him for that.
Had Parsons opted into the final year of his contract, he would have been paid $16 million next season. But since the NBA salary cap will increase to approximately $94 million this summer, Parsons opted-out of his contract and is hedging his bets that someone will pay him a maxed-out contract with a first-year salary of $22 million.
I’m not so sure that someone will be owner Mark Cuban, who tried, but couldn’t talk, Parsons into opting into the last year of his contract.
Could that conversation by Cuban have been a negotiating tactic, or was it his way of telling Parsons he wasn’t going to offer him a maxed-out contract? Especially since Cuban already said there is some risk, because Parsons had two surgical procedures on the same right knee in less than 11 months.
Also, if a team throws a maxed contract Parsons’ way, will he have the patience to wait and see what the Mavericks do with Howard or whatever top-flight free agent they’re pursuing? Or will he take the money from the other team and run?
Remember, the Rockets were on the books to pay Parsons a contract during the 2014-’15 season that was worth less than $1 million. But they got fancy – the Rockets thought they were going to get Miami Heat free agent Chris Bosh AND re-sign Parsons – and let Parsons become a restricted free agent.
But it all blew up in the Rockets’ face when Bosh re-signed with the Heat, and Cuban signed Parsons to a contract that even Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said was the "most untradeable’’ contract he’d ever seen.
So, is Parsons’ indebted to Cuban for awarding him with that "most untradeable’’ contract? And does he owe him any Nowitzki-like hometown discounts?
Parsons is 27 and in the prime of his career. You have to get as many of these maxed-out contracts as you can before your skills start to erode and your contract has a few less zeroes attached to the end of it.
If they plan on retaining Parsons, the one huge nugget in the Mavericks’ favor is that the NBA rules are set up so they can offer Parsons more years and more money than any other team. But is that the investment they want to make to a player who was injured and only played one playoff game in 2015, and was injured and didn’t play in any playoff games this past season?
When asked in April before his team’s last playoff game against Oklahoma City if he had any concerns about the multiple surgeries to Parsons’ right knee in back-to-back years, Cuban said: "Yeah, of course, but that’s why we have doctors.
"It’s definitely a concern, but that’s up to the doctors to deal with. It is a concern, but that’s why we have doctors and we’ll let them do their job.’’
If healthy, Parsons is a pretty good small forward who can fill in occasionally at power forward. He can handle the ball, his outside shooting has improved immensely, and he doesn’t get enough credit for his stout defense.
In his first year with the Mavericks, Parsons shot 46.2 percent from the field and 38 percent from 3-point range. This past season he shot 49.2 percent from the floor and 41.6 percent from downtown.
Now, will he receive a maxed-out contract? Yes he will. With all that new money floating around, someone will write that check.
I’m just not so sure that someone will be Mark Cuban. Remember, he tried to talk Parsons out of going down this rocky road.
Dwain Price can be heard every Wednesday from 3-4 p.m. on dfwiradio.com