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This season could determine Chandler Parsons’ future

The injury-riddled Chandler Parsons and the Memphis Grizzlies could have a more clear future together after this season.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

There are two groups of people when it comes to opinions on Chandler Parsons:

  1. One group of people supports him, even though he hasn’t been what he was signed to be. They recognize that his body — more notably, his knees — have betrayed him and prevented him from being Dallas or Houston Chandler Parsons. In the process, they still believe he’s a good basketball player, despite his physical limitations.
  2. The other group of people despises him. They think his subpar play is due to his overall basketball skill instead of health. In addition, they still can’t get over his social media, mainly “Chancun” — I’m still in the boat that “Chancun” is the greatest social media moment in Grizz history, no debate. Because of his social media antics, these people see him more as a SEC frat guy that lives the “Barstool Sports” lifestyle than a competent NBA basketball player.

No matter what you think about him, there’s no mistake that the Chandler Parsons experience has been disappointing. The Memphis Grizzlies signed him to be that small forward between the “Core Four,” something they’ve been missing since the Rudy Gay trade. He was also going to play the “third wheel” role next to Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, while ushering in a new — more modern — era of Grizzlies basketball.

His first season was an utter disaster highlighted by lingering knee problems, minutes restrictions, interesting social media moments (c’mon, Bella Thorne at a Grizz game? Power move right there.), and uncharacteristic play. However, last season, he was actually a productive player. He shot a career-best 42% from 3-point range, and his per-36 assist numbers lined up with his career averages. You can clearly tell that the Grizzlies held him out to ensure a good tank:

I mean, c’mon.

It would've been nice to see what Parsons could’ve done in a full season last season, but the Mike Conley injury messed things up and sparked an all-time tank. While most people this summer have speculated his role coming into next season, I’m going to take a different approach.

Giving some offseason rumors, it leads me to speculate what Chandler Parsons’ future holds. With two years left on his max deal, his future could become a lot more clear with this team — or the league in general — after this season.


NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Trade?

This summer, the Memphis Grizzlies showed a willingness to trade Chandler Parsons, even if it meant sacrificing their most valuable asset since the 2009 draft. It was a hasty decision at the time, especially considering that they could’ve gotten Luka Doncic or Jaren Jackson Jr. Teams were interested in the deal, as ESPN’s Jonathan Givony reported that Boston, Dallas, Orlando, Chicago, Denver, New York and the Clippers were talking with the Grizzlies about such a trade.

Granted, it was still an iffy idea, considering they almost put themselves in a position to get a prospect with lower upside just to get off the Parsons deal. Obviously, they would’ve had to take back salary, and the only name attached to any speculated deal was Bismack Biyombo — whose contract is worse than Parsons’ deal, from a basketball standpoint.

This season though, if Chandler Parsons is somewhat productive enough to build more trade value, maybe the Grizzlies could rekindle some trade talks. Granted, it’d still be tough to trade him without unloading a future pick or Dillon Brooks. Maybe, if the Grizzlies fall in the 6-8 range in this year’s draft, they could attach Parsons to it and get a cheaper veteran that could contribute next season and an additional first-round pick.

Chandler Parsons’ performance next year directly correlates with his trade value. If he can contribute next season, maybe teams are more willing to take him on in a salary dump in exchange for a package that doesn’t include a player like Bismack Biyombo.


NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Stretch Provision

Using the stretch provision on Chandler Parsons will be a topic that’ll be talked about in Grizz Nation over the next year or so. The Lakers did it on Luol Deng, and the Knicks may very well do the same with Joakim Noah.

However, it’s still not that good of an idea.

You’ll see those talks rev up if Parsons underperforms or is riddled with injuries yet again, especially if the Grizzlies want to continue chasing mediocrity a playoff spot. The 2019-20 season could be the last year of the Marc Gasol-Mike Conley era, so obviously the front office will do whatever it takes to make it a good one. Doing so could lead to irrational decisions!

Stretching Parsons might seem like a good idea in theory. His $24M would be off the books, but the Grizzlies would still owe him a pretty good chunk of money, and it’d likely result in a cap hit.

So, $24M won’t really open up. More than likely, they would have to stretch his contract in one or two ways:

  • $8M over three years
  • $5M over five years

Honestly, it’d be better for the Grizzlies to ride out his last year, or just trade him outright. Stretching his contract won’t free up money to lure a top-flight free agent to Memphis, and it won’t help you find an enticing young player either (Tobias Harris or D’Angelo Russell). However, another so-so season for Parsons, or the front office wanting to salvage one more season of the Gasol-Conley era, could make the stretch provision a reality.


NBA: Chicago Bulls at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Just One More Season

Whether or not Chandler Parsons has a good season this year, it’s just one more campaign. If Parsons plays 50-60 games of good basketball for 20 minutes a night, that’s a positive for the Grizzlies. This scenario would give them another excellent role player for possible playoff runs over the next two years. If he’s available for less than half the season and is not impactful, that’s okay too.

Because it’s one more year after the 2018-19 season!

One more year of minutes restrictions. One more year of “OUT: (Knee Soreness).” One more year of being — unnecessarily — mad over social media post.

It’s not that big of a deal.

That’s the logic the Grizzlies need to possess throughout these next two seasons, unless they can dupe someone into a favorable trade.


Next season isn't just big for Parsons’ future with the Grizzlies; it could also determine his NBA future. It’s really a chance for him to showcase to the Grizzlies and the rest of the league that he can still contribute to a winning organization. After this season, teams may be more willing to take on his contract in a salary dump. In addition, some championship squads may decide to add him on their bench for a veteran’s minimum when his contract expires — or if he’s bought out or stretched next summer.

Chandler Parsons will be a storyline for the Memphis Grizzlies this season, mainly because of the contract. At this point, it’s be silly to factor the contract into your expectations for him, because his body has prevented him from living up to them. Anything they can get from over the next two seasons is a bonus. Having him off the bench could be a luxury for this team, because Parsons at 60-70% of his max performance is still better than most of the backup forwards in the NBA.

For the haters, there are two more years left of the Chandler Parsons experience. The light at the end of the tunnel is approaching. For the fans, there are two more seasons of him, which leave you looking for small bright spots.

After those two years though, it’ll leave you thinking, what could’ve been.

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