As Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons tries to navigate his way through the perils of his minutes restriction, coach Rick Carlisle has four memorable words for his frustrated small forward.
“Hard things are hard,” Carlisle said, repeating his new mantra for the assembled media after Thursday’s practice at American Airlines Center.
Carlisle told a story of his visit to the White House last weekend while the Mavs were in Washington to play the Wizards, and related it to Parsons’ situation.
“We arrived in Washington on Saturday afternoon and I was pretty fortunate through someone I knew to get a tour of the Oval Office and the West Wing on Saturday night,” Carlisle said. “And when I got in the Oval Office I went to the president’s desk and there’s one plaque that’s sitting on his desk that has four words on it.
“And it says: ‘Hard Things Are Hard.’ ”
Parsons underwent surgery on his right knee on May 1 and has been frustrated while trying to get his game back to where it was last season when he averaged 15.7 points and 4.9 rebounds per contest.
Parsons was yelling last week when he was taken out of a game early in the fourth quarter in Sacramento, and he also sat the final 9:28 of Wednesday’s 98-95 loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
“What Chandler is going through is hard,” Carlisle said. “It’s a recovery from an injury where you’re away from the game for a long time and we have got to help him, his teammates have got to help him, and he’s got to help himself by just continuing to fight through it.
“There’s really no other way. There’s no switch you can flip, there’s no secret sauce, there’s no magic dust. It’s a test of will and persistence, and he’s up to it.”
Parsons is averaging just 7.9 points and 2.7 rebounds in 20.2 minutes per game this season. That includes just five points on 2-of-9 shooting in 21 uneventful minutes during the loss to the Hawks.
“[Wednesday] night I didn’t deserve to be out there,” Parsons said. “I’ve got to play well, and nothing is promised or guaranteed unconditionally.
“I’ve got to perform and it’s going to take time and it’s been a process, and it’s still a process. But I’m going to go through ups and downs, but just stick the course and just control what I can control and just continue to work hard and play hard.”
Carlisle noted a correlation between what’s happened with Parsons and what transpired with shooting guard Wesley Matthews, who had left Achilles surgery on March 11. Playing suspect ball on the offensive end of the floor, Matthews finally had a breakout game Sunday in Washington when he scored a career-high tying 36 points and also tied the Mavs’ franchise record for 3-pointers made with 10.
“Talk to Wes Matthews about hard things,” Carlisle said. “Wes has had to endure a lot.
“He’s had to work extremely hard, he’s had to endure terrible shooting nights and he’s hung in and his wherewithal leads to nights like Washington where he broke through.”
Carlisle also drew a parallel between Parsons and guard Raymond Felton, who fought to just get mere minutes last year after he suffered a high right ankle sprain during training camp.
“What he went through last year, it was months that he was having to endure a recovery from a difficult injury and a lot of people doubting him and this, that and the other,” Carlisle said. “The guy’s hung in and now he’s one of our most productive players because he has hung in when hard things were hard, and that’s what this whole thing is about.”
This whole thing also is about finding a way to keep Parsons happy until his minutes restriction is lifted and until his conditioning is where he wants it to be.
“I have zero doubt that he is completely up to it,” Carlisle said. “And I’ve told him ever since May that your season statistically and everything else probably doesn’t start until January.
“Everything up until then you have got to fight off all this stuff that’s coming at you — and it’s hard. And hard things are hard. I have a new proclamation about hard things. Hard things are hard.”