Ex-Rockets reunite in Dallas, embrace other side of rivalry with Mavs

DALLAS — For each of their first three seasons in the NBA small forward Chandler Parsons and big man Greg Smith called themselves teammates with the Houston Rockets, entering the league together in 2011.

Now, the two young veterans find themselves reunited once again, joining forces in Dallas as the Southwest Division rivalry between the Mavericks and Rockets figures to be reignited this upcoming season.

Wheeling and dealing this summer, the Mavericks’ front office inked Parsons as a restricted free agent when the Rockets opted not to match a three-year offer sheet worth reportedly $46 million. The Mavs’ brass didn’t stop there, working out a trade with Chicago to grab the 6-foot-10 Smith, who — after an injury-plagued season led to his release from Houston — signed with the Bulls on April 14 but never played a game prior to being dealt to Dallas in exchange for the rights to Tadija Dragicevic.

Parsons is projected to slide in immediately as the starting small forward in Dallas. Meanwhile, Smith’s addition will help fill the void left by the departure of DeJuan Blair, in addition to backing up first-string center Tyson Chandler. The Mavericks will now depend on the two former Rockets in order to assist 12-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki in returning the franchise to the NBA’s top tier.

“It’s definitely a little strange,” Parsons said after his deal with the Mavericks was made official last month. “You know, all my friends are texting me like, ‘You realize that you just signed with the rival,’ and all that stuff. But I’ve always had a great time coming here and playing here. The fans here, the crowd is always sold out and it’s always a great energetic atmosphere to play in. It will be fun now to actually play here and not get booed and to get cheered for.”

“I’m looking forward to it a lot, playing with Tyson Chandler,” Smith added after backing up Dwight Howard and Omer Asik in Houston. “I’ve learned a lot playing with Dwight and Big O, so playing with [Chandler] I’m going to learn a lot more. He’s a great guy. And even playing with Dirk, I’m going to learn a lot on the offensive end. And just being in Texas, the fans there are wonderful. So, I’m going to go out there and just fill that void of DeJuan Blair and bring that toughness and bring that big body every night. Just show people that I’ve been working out for the past five months and I’m ready to prove that I’m healthy.”

But, while Smith will simply try to prove that he’s healthy and capable of being a force inside, Parsons welcomes a larger role as he sets out to take another step in his budding career.

Looking to learn from Nowitzki, Parsons joins an offensive attack that features guard Monta Ellis. Averaging 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.2 steals an outing last season, the 25-year-old Parsons will also lend his versatility to Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, likely being called upon to play a multitude of roles in Dallas’ system for seasons to come.

“He’s going to be great, man. I don’t know how people think it’s not going to work, but I think it’s going to work a lot because he’s just a versatile player that can do anything,” Smith said while offering up a scouting report on Parsons. “He can play one through four, he can dribble, he can shoot, he can pass, he can play defense and I played with him for three years. I loved him. He’s a great teammate, he’s not selfish and he’s going to do work. People don’t understand how big it was that he came to our team. That was a great acquisition right there. I loved it.”

“I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface of how good I can be,” Parsons confidently proclaimed. “I’m an extremely hard worker, and I’m just going to keep getting better every single day. You know, I’m happy in Dallas and I’m very comfortable here. I knew all the guys pretty much before I even signed the contract, so I think there’s still a lot of room for improvement. You know, I signed a three-year deal with a player option my third year right before I’m going into my prime, so it’s definitely a great opportunity for me. I don’t know what’s going to happen after the second year or third year, but I look forward to being here a really long time.”