The Magic loom as the most significant threat to the Mavericks to sign Chandler Parsons to a new contract this summer, reports Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com. Parsons is a virtual lock to turn down his $16.023MM player option for next season with the salary cap moving sharply upward, and he’s expected to receive a maximum-salary contract, MacMahon writes. Sources who spoke with MacMahon anticipate an aggressive pursuit from Orlando and expect the Heat, Lakers, Nets, Knicks, Trail Blazers, Rockets and Nuggets to come after the 27-year-old, too. The Thunder, would also have interest if Kevin Durant bolts, MacMahon adds, pointing to the presence of Billy Donovan, Parsons’ college coach, in Oklahoma City.
The Mavs realize they’ll need to once more put on a recruiting effort for the versatile small forward they signed to a loaded offer sheet in 2014, but they nonetheless appear to be the favorites for him again this summer, according to MacMahon. That’s because of the loyalty he feels toward owner Mark Cuban and teammate Dirk Nowitzki, as well as the fondness Parsons has for Rick Carlisle, having advocated for the five-year extension the team gave the coach earlier this season, the ESPN scribe writes. The relationship between Parsons and Carlisle is nuanced, MacMahon explains, with Parsons wary of whether Carlisle fully trusts him on the court, but Carlisle this week referred to Parsons as “a franchise-caliber player in the making” in a message to MacMahon.
The Magic opened enough cap flexibility in trades last month to sign two players to max contracts this summer, with only about $36MM in guaranteed salary on next season’s books against a projected $90MM cap. Orlando and soon-to-be free agent Al Horford reportedly have mutual interest, and Horford went to the University of Florida, just as Parsons did.
Parsons is in his fifth season, so he’ll be eligible for the lowest of the three maximum salary tiers, likely with a starting salary approaching $21MM. The Mavs will have only his Early Bird rights this summer, though they’ll function essentially as full Bird rights would for Parsons because his projected max is within 175% of his nearly $15.362MM salary for this season. The only difference will be that the Mavs can only offer four years instead of the five that they could with full Bird rights. Dallas will still have the opportunity to give him 7.5% raises instead of the 4.5% that the Magic and others will be limited to. That would mean a difference of some $4MM over the life of a four-year deal. Still, Parsons will value comfort and on-court opportunity over money as he decides where to sign, sources familiar with his thinking tell MacMahon.
In any case, the Mavericks appear committed to doing what they can to keep Parsons. Cuban indicated as much about a month ago to MacMahon, referring to Parsons and Wesley Matthews as a “crushing tandem on the wing.”