Dallas Mavericks

Grizzlies’ Chandler Parsons returns ‘home’ to face Dallas Mavericks

He didn’t shed any tears, but Chandler Parsons was emotional when he went past the residence in Dallas where he used to live when he played for the Dallas Mavericks the last two seasons.

“(Thursday) night when I got here I was actually kind of sad going past my old place and going to dinner at Nick & Sam’s,’’ Parsons said after Friday morning’s shootaround at American Airlines Center. “This was home for two years, and I love this city and I love the people.

“So it’s definitely good to be back and see some friends and catch up with the guys on the other side.’’

Parsons signed a four-year, $94 million free agent contract with the Memphis Grizzlies last July after spending the previous two injury-riddled seasons with the Mavericks. Friday night at 7:30 he’ll play his first game against the Mavericks when the two teams collide at AAC.

Asked if he believes he’ll get a standing ovation from the sellout crowd, Parsons said he didn’t know.

“It is what it is,’’ Parsons said. “I did everything I could when I was here, I played through injuries, recruited, so that’s up to (the fans).

“I know I’m happy to be back.’’

Against the wishes of Mavs owner Mark Cuban, Parsons opted out of the final year of his contract last summer so he could become a free agent. It’s no secret that Parsons and Cuban were close.

So where is that relationship today?

“We’re still cool,’’ Parsons said. “Obviously, I don’t see him as much and I don’t talk to him as much, but we got together a little bit this summer in LA.

“At the end of the day it’s a business – it sounds stupid to say – and as a businessman he made his decision and I made my own decision. I think mutually we both agreed that it’s for the best and we moved on and it’s working out for both of us.’’

Parsons did say he was “a little bit’’ surprised the Mavericks didn’t try to re-sign him.

“A little bit just because I thought we had something going here,’’ Parsons said. “My relationship with Mark was great and my relationship with Dirk (Nowitzki) and all of the other guys on the staff, but obviously my medial past and the two knee surgeries played a huge part in it.’’

Parsons has only played in five games after recovering from right knee surgery that cut short his season last year with the Mavericks. But Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle sounds confident that the 6-foot-9 forward will be a huge factor for the Grizzlies.

“He’s getting better each game, more comfortable, better conditioning, better rhythm – a similar situation to last year with us,’’ Carlisle said. “He’s a guy that is really going to help their team and they were smart to sign him as a piece that can finish off a contending team.

“A wing player like that that can shoot it, that can make plays, can rebound and play the overall game really enhances their overall situation. He’s going to help their club contend this year – I really believe that to be fact.’’

Grizzlies coach David Fizdale is hoping Carlisle is a prophet. In the meantime, Fizdale said he’s seen “growth’’ from Parsons since he’s returned from his injury.

“Every game he’s gotten a little bit better, a little bit stronger, a little more confident seeing connection with his teammates,’’ Fizdale said. “We’re just starting to build some chemistry.

“I’m really looking forward to the day where he and (center) Marc (Gasol) can really connect, because I think that’s a tough duo to deal with. But he’s just being getting better and stronger every day.’’

Parsons said the Grizzlies asked him earlier this week if he wanted to play 20 minutes in this past Wednesday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers and 20 more minutes against the Mavericks. Or did he want to play less than 20 minutes against the Clippers and more than 20 minutes against the Mavs.

Obviously, Parsons chose the latter option in part because it’s only natural for a player to want to show his former team what they’re missing in not having him around any more.

Still, Parsons, who played 14 minutes in the Grizzlies’ 111-107 win over the Clippers, never circled Friday’s game against the Mavs on the calendar.

And why not?

“Because I didn’t know the timetable of my injury and I didn’t know if I’d be playing or not, and I really didn’t look that far ahead,’’ he said. “But obviously the first time playing them is not just like any other game.

“But once the ball goes up in the air tonight, all the noise, all the talks, all the reports, they’re all quiet and we play basketball.’’

The fact that the Mavericks will be without injured players Deron Williams, J. J. Barea, Devin Harris and Nowitzki on Friday matters not to Parsons on how tough this game will be.

“If we were a stupid young team, then it would, but they’ve still got NBA players over there very capable and can make shots and really score the ball,’’ Parsons said. “You can’t take your foot off the gas just because their best players aren’t playing.’’

The Mavericks have essentially replaced Parsons with Harrison Barnes, who was a free agent from the Golden State Warriors. Parsons agreed that the Mavericks made a solid choice in signing Barnes to a four-year, $94 million contract.

“He’s a great player,’’ Parsons said. “I told Mark initially that we should go after him and play with me together, so I’m not surprised.

"He’s a really talented player, but it’s kind of silly to compare what we’re doing right now as I’m coming back and not playing full minutes and not healthy.

But I’m not surprised at all because he can really play.’’’

Parsons, who had right knee surgery twice during his two years with the Mavericks, just wishes he would have gotten the chance to play with Barnes in Dallas.

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