Houston’s mastermind plan of adding Chris Bosh and then matching the Mavericks’ offer sheet to Chandler Parsons ended up being nothing more than a pipe dream. The Rockets lost out on the Bosh, and then strangely, and somewhat surprisingly, decided not to match Dallas’ offer sheet to Parsons. It’s a serious blow to the Rockets, who many were starting to project as the second best team in the West, assuming they retained Parsons and added Bosh. Without those guys, the Rockets are left with a Howard-Harden duo and mediocre supporting players. It’s a team that is still in the playoffs, but decidedly less imposing. They couldn’t even make it out of the first round with Parsons.
The Rockets supposedly let Parsons walk for financial reasons. That’s somewhat understandable. Matching the 3 year/$46 million deal that Parsons got from Dallas would’ve been Houston’s way of saying they believed they could win a championship with a Howard-Harden-Parsons nucleus. Keeping Parsons would have hamstrung their cap for the next few years, and only given them minimal space to add other quality players. Is Parsons worth over $15 million per season? The Rockets didn’t think so. He’s only 25 years old. He has been a very productive player in the NBA so far, and is fairly versatile. His numbers might be a tad inflated playing on the up-tempo Rockets. Most fans think of him as purely a shooter, thus fitting the typical stereotype, but that really is not Parsons. He’s a good shooter, but his game is much more versatile than that. Parsons is good at putting up shot fakes and scoring off the bounce. And he’s a much better passer than he gets credit for. It’s tough to find quality footage on YouTube of Parsons’ game in college, other than the pair of buzzer-beaters he hit and general highlight clips. But in college, he basically served as a point-forward for Florida. He has great vision for a player of his size, especially one who’s primarily a scorer.
Rockets fans might think they made the right move. They might think the Rockets actually got better, deciding to spend money on a cheaper, arguably more productive small forward Trevor Ariza. They signed Ariza to a 4 year/$32 million deal, meaning Ariza will make around half of what Parsons makes per season. Anyone who is a Wizards fan or knows Ariza’s game knows how much more limited he is than Parsons. Ariza had a career year for the Wizards last season, and he may be a better defensive presence on the perimeter, but offensively, he is a purely a spot-up shooter. Just look at this to see how important John Wall was to his production.
If you’re going to defend the Rockets decision to sign Ariza and let Parsons walk, that’s okay. Just make sure you’re defending it on a purely fiscal basis. Parsons fit the Rockets’ identity much better than Ariza. Ariza isn’t a terrible replacement, but the Rockets did not get any better with the move. It allows them to retain some flexibility financially for the next few years, but isn’t the Rockets’ window to win now?