Grizzlies just announced Chandler Parsons has a partial meniscus tear in his left knee and is out indefinitely.— Kevin Lipe (@FlyerGrizBlog) March 13, 2017
And with that tweet, darkness warshed over Memphis Grizzlies fans — darker’n a black steer’s tookus on a moonless prairie night. There was no bottom.
I’d love to take credit for that line, but it’s actually taken (and tweaked just slightly) from The Big Lebowski, one of my favorite (and one of the most profane) movies of all time. The story centers around a laid-back character known simply as The Dude, who, through a series of misunderstandings and some wacky hi-jinks, ends up on the hook for a lot of money.
Chandler Parsons signed a max contract with Memphis he did so to much fanfare for reasons that were covered at the date of the signing and rehashed as things have drifted steadily south. Parsons was the biggest free agent signed in Grizzlies history; he added the sort of ball-handling, play-making, and shooting that Memphis had lacked for so long. Parsons, it was said by many, was the missing piece, the rug that tied the room together.
But Parsons was In-N-Out of the lineup (those are some good burgers, Walter) early in the season, and when he was finally capable of playing regularly, he always looked out of his element. His movements were clunky, his jump shot was flat (read: flatter than usual), and at times he looked unwilling to take even open shots.
That, of course, led to plenty of debate regarding Parsons’ playing time. For the better part of the past month and a half, Parsons was discussed ad nauseam across every available medium. People debated every aspect of his life: from his work ethic and social media presence, all the way down to his mental health. At some point I’m sure people argued over what condition his condition was in.
David Fizdale wasn’t spared in the discussion, either. In spite of Parsons’ poor performance, and the fact that the improvement looked nonexistent, Fizdale continued to put Parsons in the starting lineup and play him to the fullest extent allowed under his restriction. It wasn’t until just recently, when new information came to light that indicated Fizdale had his hands tied with regard to lineups. He wasn’t quite hamstrung, more like he’d had a freshly painted toe lopped off.
With those limited options, Fizdale did what he could to shuffle the lineups to motivate a team that looked stagnant post-All Star break. The result was a starting five that included two of the worst shooters in the NBA. In effect, Fizdale had dropped trou and peed all over the starting lineup. And this season, whenever a lineup is micturated upon in this fair city, it all comes back to Parsons.
Parsons’ has always caught more than his fair share of blame for Memphis’ struggles. It’s undeniable that Parsons’ play was a significant problem, even the most significant problem. But he certainly wasn’t the only problem. Yet it felt as some fans attributed Monday night’s win over the Bucks solely to Parsons’ absence; if that were the case, though what happened just days earlier, when Parsons rested and Memphis still looked flat against the Clippers? Using Parsons as the sole explanation feels like an oversimplification.
As for the way the team handled things, it appears that the front office and training staff believed the best way to get Parsons back to his old self was to continue to run him out there until the rust was gone. Maybe it would’ve worked eventually had Parsons’ not suffered another injury setback. Or maybe it would’ve been best to just shut down Parsons. Hindsight is 20-20, but at the time I thought the decision to keep Parsons in the lineup was the right one. You’re free to disagree, though. After all, that’s just like, my opinion, man.
Anyway, none of this really matters now. For the rest of the season, at least, we can just be Parsons Nihilists and stop debating what he should be doing. The endless discussion has been a world of pain, to be honest- the Instagram posts, theHoollywood friends front row at games in jerseys doubling as dresses, the prank video- we’ve seen things go over the line. For now, we can just take the first year of the contract, mark it zero, and move on.
There will be plenty of time to talk about the next three years once the off-season rolls around, and we can reopen these wounds again. I’ve tried to remain the optimist on Parsons so far, and I’ll try to keep that moving into next year. But if he looks just as clunky a couple of months into next season, I wouldn’t hold out much hope for the rest of the contract.
Or the Credence.