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Parsons Post-Mortem: Chandler’s future in Memphis

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The Grizzlies are without their max player. What does that mean now and in the future?

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Chandler Parsons experiment ended its first season with a whimper.

Fitting, considering it never really began with much of a bang.

Unfortunately, Memphis needs him in the long run in order to maximize the Mike Conley/Marc Gasol era that the Grizzlies are currently all-in on. The team may be better in the short term, but will that translate to playoff success? What should the lineup and rotation look like with the weight of Chandler lifted from the team, at least for the time being?

GBB Senior Features Writer Matt Hrdlicka and I tackled those questions this week.


Site Manager Joe Mullinax (@JoeMullinax)- So Chandler Parsons is out, likely for the season, with yet another knee injury. This one is to the knee that hasn't been operated on twice already, so that is a plus. But it is a pretty poor ending to a really disappointing first season for Parsons in Memphis.

While some are borderline celebrating this development, Matt, I am pretty bummed out. Yes, I am a Chandler Parsons guy and he is now the latest victim of the Mullinax wing curse. But more than that, him not returning to form this season and again having a knee injury likely ending his campaign has both short and long term ramifications.

I am surprised by the optimism I have seen. Am I being overly negative? Or are people underestimating just how much this could suck for Memphis?

Senior Features Writer Matt Hrdlicka (@theRealHrdlicka)- I think people are glad they don't have an unproductive player rammed down their throats every night. Parsons was really tough to watch, especially near the end, and he didn't help the Grizzlies win, at all, this year.

Replacing his spot in the rotation with literally any other wing will help, but Parsons was the Grizzlies only hope of elevating their ceiling this season.

The reason I was fine trotting Parsons out there game after game, is... what was the alternative? All the other wings are plug and play. It's not like Vince Carter or Toney Douglas will develop some new chemistry with the team. If Parsons had even a 5% chance of turning the corner, it was worth playing him for that chance.

Still, Parsons was so bad, that they will probably "seem" better now that he can't play. At least mentally, they will be able to move on.

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Mullinax- And that mentality has always been something that bothered me about Marc Gasol. You can argue how poorly Jeff Green fit with this team, and your eyes tell you Parsons was struggling, as do the numbers. But Gasol on both occasions appeared to allow lesser players than himself to dictate how he approached the game.

No player is perfect, and Marc is clearly the best Grizzlies player not just now, but all-time. That is one of his flaws, though- he can't separate his own game from the struggles of others, or the decisions of a coach or management. Yet he doesn't want to be a part of management decisions. Strange.

I agree with your "who was the alternative" philosophy. That was my thought as well. Sure, in the short term Memphis will play better, and they'll probably get well above their over for the season in terms of over/under preseason projections. They may even hold off OKC and be the six seed. But do we really think they can beat the Rockets, much less the Spurs or Warriors, without Parsons at or near full strength?

It is likely at this point he never would have gotten there, but you had to try to give yourself your best shot. Now? You're up against a wall similar to last season, in my opinion. You'll make the playoffs- but you won't get much more out of it.

And then there's the long-term ramifications. What if October rolls around and Parsons isn't able to go? Or is what he was these past few months? Obviously the meniscus tear isn't as bad as his previous injury to the other knee. But this could get real ugly, real fast.

Hrdlicka- You can't help yourself. You have to interject Jeff Green into everything.

While we're on the topic, I want to push back a little on a narrative I've heard a few times that attempts to connect the Jeff Green situation to the Parsons situation. In the former, Green was a misidentification of skill set. The Grizzlies bet that Green could occasionally be the primary ball handler, and be a great secondary threat off of their main guys. They paid a pick. It turned out not to work.

With Parsons, nobody should be killing the Grizzlies for misidentifying what this guy can do. Of gettable players, he was the perfect fit. The only resource used to attain him was cap space (RIP cap space).

In BOTH cases, the moves had negative results in year one, but it was also 100% correct to keep playing both of them. Once you acquire a guy (whether it be giving up significant assets in a trade, or significant cap space) you have to give the move every opportunity to work out.

The massive caveat to the above paragraph is that in Parsons' case, if he was at an increased risk of injuring himself again by playing, they should have shut him down. It's a pretty big leap of faith to suggest that, in the face of his third knee injury in less than 2 years, he was good to go, but I also have a very hard time thinking the Grizzlies trotted him out there if he was at an elevated risk of injuring himself.

This is where we are at: Parsons will be 29 next year, past his athletic peak, and nearing the end of what is considered to be the peak of typical wings. He will have had several surgeries across both his knees. Parsons' best days are probably gone. He might never be able to play thirty minutes again. {Insert This is Fine Meme here}.

And yet, if Parsons can get his knees right enough to fix his jumper, he can probably live up to 70% of his contract, which isn't terrible.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Mullinax- And would still be better than 100% of Evan Turner...at least, that is what I choose to tell myself.

That is something else to keep in mind. Think back to free agency. As you mentioned, his skills fit perfectly and he was the best possible player that Memphis could get. A majority of folks thought he was unobtainable! His health situation was surely understood and evaluated before such a commitment was made in him. Hopefully he is fine come October.


Be on the lookout for Part II of our chat!

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