The deadline for the Houston Rockets to match the Dallas Mavericks’ offer sheet came and went today without the team doing so, making restricted free agent Chandler Parsons a Dallas Maverick for at least two years. Chandler is now all Dallas’ for three years/$46 million with a 15 percent trade kicker that makes it less likely Parsons could be moved in the near future. But more important are the implications for the Rockets.
Daryl Morey came into the offseason with high hopes and dreams to improve an already solid roster. Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and others have all been tied to Houston this offseason, but none of those came to fruition. This is unfortunate because the Rockets must have been so sure they were going to be able to land a big name free agent this summer that they jettisoned Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik and now Chandler Parsons with only Trevor Ariza to really show for it. Considered where they had set the bar, that’s disappointing.
In a way, the decision not to match on Parsons made sense because it would have hamstrung their cap situation further with Dwight Howard and James Harden’s contracts on the books, making it difficult to build around them. On the other hand, after whiffing on their primary free agent targets, it would seem logical that they would try to salvage some of last season’s team, but they let Parsons walk. Houston, albeit in a loaded Western Conference, wasn’t really that far away and it stood to reason that Parsons could have played into that contract. Now they will likely watch Parsons’ new team, the Mavericks, become greater favorites next season while they try to overcome their losses. Houston still has time to make some moves to hemorrhage the bleeding, but the market is drying up more and more every day.
Mark Cuban knew exactly what he was doing and was really going to win either way. If the Rockets had matched he knew that they would have had little cap flexibility to improve a team that was probably the third favorite team in the West last season, limiting their ceiling for the next few seasons. And if they didn’t, they were getting Parsons and a fairly team-friendly deal. It was a win-win either way for Dallas, but was quickly becoming a lose-lose for Houston after Bosh and Melo returned to their previous teams.
Perhaps things would have been different had Anthony decided to walk away from $30 million. Or if Chris Bosh did have a last minute change of heart due to some loyalty felt to Dwyane Wade, or last minute convincing from Pat Riley, or something. Any of those chips falling a different way may have drastically altered the course of the Rockets’ summer, but instead they’re left scurrying to keep as many pieces together as they can of their shattered hopes.