WEDNESDAY, 10:02am: The Rockets are leaning toward turning down their option on Parsons, but the team has yet to finalize its decision, a source tells Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Houston is nonetheless likely to decline the option, unless it gets the sense that he’ll receive offers it deems too high, Feigen hears. The willingness to make Parsons a free agent this summer indicates the team’s confidence in its ability to sign a marquee free agent this summer, as Feigen observes. Houston would have to clear a significant amount of salary off its books to make that happen, but the Rockets like their chances of moving Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin, since they would be looking for cap flexibility rather than players in return, Feigen reports.
TUESDAY, 9:35pm: The Rockets plan to decline Chandler Parsons‘ fourth-year team option and make him a restricted free agent this summer, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski ofYahoo Sports. Parsons’ 2014/15 option is worth $960K, and if Houston decided to ultimately pick up that option, the 6’9 forward would hit unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2015. The team is said to be wary of allowing Dan Fegan – Parsons’ agent – the ability to land his client a monster contract on the open market next year, and by letting Parsons hit restricted free agency this July, Houston could simply match an offer sheet and keep him on a long-term deal.
Interestingly, Wojnarowski points out a few other distinct advantages that Houston has by letting Parsons hit free agency now. The Rockets reportedly have their sights set on chasing after big time free agents who have the option of opting out of their deals this summer, including LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, and Dirk Nowitzki. In one scenario, Wojnarowski writes that the Rockets could secure a max free agent to play alongside Dwight Howard and James Harden, and then subsequently re-sign Parsons to a new contract below the max-level range. Wojnarowski also hears that the Rockets are also pursuing Timberwolves star Kevin Love in trade talks, adding that Parsons could alternately be used as a bargaining chip in a potential sign-and-trade with Minnesota.
Selected 38th overall in 2011, Parsons has not only proven to be one of the most promising young players at his position, but one of the best value players in the entire league. In 74 games this past season, the former Florida Gator averaged 16.6 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 4.0 APG, and 1.2 SPG in 37.2 MPG while shooting 47.2% from the field and 37.0% from long distance. After earning roughly $890K in 2013/14, Parsons – according to a league executive – could command as much as $12MM or $13MM annually on his next contract.
Houston will have until June 30 to formally decline the option. At the very least, says Wojnarowski, doing so clears the way for Parsons to receive an enormous payday now and creates a better climate for the Rockets to negotiate an extension with their prized young forward.