Chandler Parsons offered max deal by Blazers; Memphis meeting set

ByTim MacMahon ESPN logo
Friday, July 1, 2016

The Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies have emerged as the primary competitors for free-agent forward Chandler Parsons, sources told ESPN.

The Blazers offered Parsons a maximum contract worth $94.8 million over four years during a meeting in Los Angeles in the opening hours of free agency, sources said. The Grizzlies are also expected to make a max offer in a meeting with Parsons scheduled for Friday, sources told ESPN's Marc Stein.

There is "no chance" of Parsons re-signing with the Dallas Mavericks, a source said.

The divorce comes after the Mavs made it clear that they had no intention of offering a max contract to Parsons, whose two seasons in Dallas both ended prematurely because of surgeries on his right knee.

The Blazers, who are aggressively attempting to make a major addition via free agency for the first time since Brian Grant left Sacramento for Portland almost two decades ago, did not hesitate to meet Parsons' contractual demands.

Portland owner Paul Allen, general manager Neil Olshey, coach Terry Stotts and star point guard Damian Lillard attended the meeting. A source described Parsons as "really impressed" with Portland's presentation, which emphasized how he would fit with the core of a young team that advanced to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs last season.

Parsons has an advocate in Memphis in recently hired assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff, who formed a close relationship with Parsons during their time together with the Houston Rockets. Sources say point guardMike Conleyalso wants Parsons in Memphis if Conley re-signs with the Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies are the heavy favorites to keep Conley if their offer for a max contract includes the fifth year that only they can give him.

Mavs owner Mark Cuban attempted to talk Parsons, his partner in last summer's ultimately unsuccessful attempt to recruit center DeAndre Jordan to Dallas, into opting into the final season of the three-year, $46 million deal Parsons signed after spending his first three seasons with the Rockets. Sources say Parsons never seriously considered picking up the option, as he was confident that he'd receive a significant raise and long-term deal this summer because versatile, playmaking forwards are in high demand and short supply.

The Mavs responded by putting Parsons on the backburner to begin free agency, making Conleyand Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside their top targets. The Mavs met with Whiteside in New York in the opening hours of free agency and have a Friday afternoon meeting in Dallas scheduled with Conley, sources said.

The Mavs also had a meeting scheduled with Charlotte Hornets small forward Nicolas Batumon Friday, but he struck a deal hours into free agency to stay in Charlotte, according to a league source.

Cuban had consistently described Parsons as a foundation piece, but sources say Dallas decision-makers reached a consensus opinion that they weren't willing to take the risk of offering him a max deal.

Parsons averaged 14.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game during his two-year tenure in Dallas but was only able to play in one playoff game because of his knee injuries.

Parsons, 27, had hybrid microfracture surgery on the knee in spring of 2015, and the rehab from that operation lasted well into the 2015-16 season. The arthroscopic operation Parsons underwent this spring to address a torn meniscus in the knee wasn't nearly as serious as the previous surgery.

Sources say multiple renowned orthopedic specialists have given Parsons clearance to resume full basketball activities and expressed optimism that his knee would not prevent him from having a long, productive NBA career.

Parsons averaged 13.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 61 games last season, statistics skewed by a slow start as he dealt with strict minutes restrictions. He had the best statistical stretch of his five-year career in the two months before his season ended, averaging 18.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game while shooting 51.9 percent from the floor and 47.7 percent from 3-point range and proving he could thrive at power forward in addition to small forward.

The 6-foot-9 Parsons' rare blend of perimeter shooting accuracy and ability as a creator resulted in a list of suitors that also includes the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers.

ESPN's Marc Stein and The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears contributed to this report.

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