After two injury-shortened seasons, Chandler Parsons mulls decision to enter free agency

DALLAS — Entering the 2015-16 campaign with concerns about his right knee after undergoing a hybrid microfracture surgery last offseason, Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons again will admittedly face another uphill climb this summer following a second straight injury-shortened season.

Last season, the 6-foot-10 Parsons hoped to make the most of his first campaign with the Mavericks after signing a reported three-year deal worth $46 million to join the team following three previous seasons with the rival Houston Rockets. However, after being plagued by nagging injuries throughout the grueling 82-game schedule, Parsons found his ’14-15 season cut short after Game 1 of the Mavs’ first-round playoff series against Houston while requiring surgery to repair cartilage damage in his right knee.

Playing in only 66 games last season while averaging 15.7 points, 4.9 rebound and 2.4 assists, the versatile forward was still rehabbing from the injury entering the ’15-16 schedule. He then made his season debut with two points, three rebounds and three assists in 12 minutes of action during a 103-93 road win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 1. Parsons battled his way back to 100 percent from there, overcoming minute restrictions to start the season in the process. But after playing some of his basketball later in the year, Parsons was again forced to miss the team’s first-round playoff series against Oklahoma City following arthroscopic surgery on March 25 to address an injury to his right medial meniscus.

“It’s devastating,” Parsons admitted after watching in street clothes as the Mavs eventually fell to a first-round exit in five games to the Thunder. “You know, last year was something extremely difficult that I had to go through that I’ve never really went through, and now this year I was finally starting to feel like myself again, playing great and winning some games. And then, you know, it’s something different but the same type of injury. It’s just frustrating to not be able to play with these guys and to see us struggle. To see us lose like this in the first round, you can’t help but think, ‘What could I do if I were playing? How would I help?’ You just feel bad for the guys, ’cause it’s bad timing for us to go through all the injuries that we went through this year. But at the same time, you’ve got to be extremely happy for the way they competed and the way they fought. They didn’t give up at all, they didn’t back down from anybody, and they made it an interesting series, for sure. But the most difficult part is, for the second year in a row, to not being able to play for my team when it counts.”

The 27-year-old Parsons played in 61 games for the Mavs this season, making 51 starts and averaging 13.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists. He also seemed to be playing the best basketball of the his young career during the last 30 games he saw action in before the surgery, averaging 18.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 34.3 minutes while connecting on 52 percent from the floor and 47.5 percent from three-point range during that span.

He now could test the free-agency waters should he choose to opt out of the final year of his contract to hit the open market. But with plans of speaking with Mavs owner Mark Cuban and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, the former Florida standout says he hopes to work out his contract situation quickly in order to recruit more top-level talent to Dallas.

“I mean, obviously, now that the season’s over, my No. 1 concern right now is to get my knee at 100 percent and focus on my health, to make sure I can get through a full season next year and play the best basketball of my career for 82 games next year and into the playoffs. That’s my No. 1 priority, and now that this season’s over is when I’ll start talking to my agent and looking at other options. I’m sure I’ll be talking to Mark and Donnie a lot about my future here in Dallas. The season obviously ended a lot shorter than we would have liked, but now I guess I’ll take some time off and start talking and thinking about free agency,” Parsons explained.

He added: “Obviously, it’s tough to recruit if I don’t know where I’m going. You know, in the back of my head, Dallas is home to me. I loved it here, and I came here to be a great player and to win a lot of games. You know, I’ve yet to do that here, so I feel like I’ve got a lot of unfinished business here I’d love to continue and grow into the player that I saw myself being here. So, the quicker we can get that done, it allows me to start recruiting and doing that whole thing.”

Showing promise during his first two seasons with the Mavericks, Parsons hopes to continue to grow as a player in a Dallas uniform. That’s a hope the Mavs’ front office shares, according to Nelson, as negotiations figure to get underway in the very near future.

Prior to his last two injury-riddled years, Parsons proved to be durable while playing in 76 and 74 games during the previous two seasons, respectively. He now hopes to recapture that health entering next season, vowing to come back stronger and better than he’s ever been. Still, Nelson says the Mavericks will take a cautious approach into negotiations this summer while attempting to lure Parsons back.

“Certainly, he’s a young player in his prime with upside, but those are conversations that I think we’ll have at the right time,” Nelson said when asked about Parsons’ future in Dallas. “He’s been a big part of the fabric that we’ve built here. But again, it’s a question of how many dollars and injury status and things like that. So, I think we just need to sit down, get past an emotional moment and have those conversations in due process.

“It’s part of the discussions. You know, there are issues and there is a situation there. It’s not that it’s unmanageable, but it’s just that it affects things. … Again, we’ll have those conversations at the right time, but we’d certainly like to have Parsons continue his stint with the Mavericks. He’s a young player with upside, is getting better and works great in our system, so we’ll look forward to those conversations at the right time.”

Mavs’ perimeter duo of Wesley Matthews, Chandler Parsons showcase their versatility in win over Milwaukee

Postgame: Chandler Parsons

Mavs F Chandler Parsons dishes on Monday's win over the Bucks, his rapport with Wesley Matthews and more.

DALLAS — They were two of the offensive catalysts for the Dallas Mavericks during the team’s 103-93 win at home Monday night against the Milwaukee Bucks. But according to swingman Wesley Matthews and small forward Chandler Parsons, they’re just beginning to scratch the surface of how effective they can be when in the lineup together.

Rejoining the first unit after accepting a reserve role while working his way back from a hybrid microfracture surgery on his right knee this offseason, Parsons lined up alongside Matthews on the opposite wing to finish with 13 points, four rebounds and four assists in the win. Meanwhile, Matthews showed no signs of the torn left Achilles tendon that ended his 2014-15 season after only 60 games with Portland, leading four Mavericks in double figures with 22 points on 6-of-10 shooting and hitting 5 of 7 from three-point range.

And although the two expect more production this season after forming a bond during their rehabilitation processes this summer, both admit that Monday night was a step in the right direction.

“You know, it’s a great combination with what he does and what I do,” Parsons proclaimed following the Mavericks’ third straight win. “We can really play off of each other with the way he posts up and the way I cut. You know, he’s an unbelievable defender and I can play make, especially playing off of each other. He’s an extremely hard worker, and just going through both the surgeries and rehabs we went through this summer was cool to have someone to go through that with. Him going through the Achilles rehab and me going through the knee rehab, you know, it’s been a long time coming. And we’re finally starting to feel like we’re getting back to ourselves and getting to where we should be.”

“I think it’s more exciting that we’re not anywhere close to what we can be as a tandem and as a duo, but I think we have flashes of it,” Matthews added. “We’re nowhere near it, but we’re on that path, and it’s going to be scary when it happens.”

Last season, Parsons played in 66 games during his first campaign with the Mavericks (18-13), averaging 15.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 33.1 minutes per outing. He then had his season cut short after Game 1 of the Mavs’ first-round playoff series against his former team, the Houston Rockets, suffering cartilage damage in his right knee that required surgery on May 1.

Meanwhile, Matthews suffered his season-ending injury against the Mavericks on March 5, finishing the ’14-15 campaign averaging 15.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals while connecting on 44.8 percent from the field and 38.9 percent from behind the three-point arc. And after both Matthews and Parsons vowed to return from their respective injuries better than they were before, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle says Monday’s outing was just a glimpse of what’s to come.

Postgame: Wesley Matthews

Mavs SG Wesley Matthews weighs in on his game-high 22-point performance in Monday's win over Milwaukee.

“We are getting there, but I don’t think there is any magic date. When you go through injuries like those two guys did, I think it is an ongoing challenge to continue to build it up. Both of these guys stated very clearly when their injuries happened that their goal was not only to be back, but to be back better than they were before. And to do that, it is going to be a long-term proposition,” Carlisle explained. “I think that both of these guys understand that. Parsons has gained a lot of respect for what it is like to go through something like this. He has never had an injury like this with the process involved and the mental challenges along with all of the physical aspects. Wes is going through the same thing. They both were serious injuries requiring surgery, but they were different in nature. They are both doing well, and they will do better and better as the season goes on.”

Parsons has slowly began to hit his stride while having his minutes restriction lifted over the last week, averaging 9.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists on the season in 24 games. Matthews has also shown glimpses of his old self, posting 12.9 points a contest and connecting on 36.1 percent from three-point range while starting all 29 of his appearances this season.

And while both say they feel great physically, the duo also acknowledges that it’s still an uphill climb to become the players that they hope to be by season’s end.

“I feel better,” Matthews said. “I feel good. Every week I get stronger, and every day we are doing something to make my body stronger. Not even just the Achilles, but everything else. I’m making sure we are doing all the right things, and I feel good.”

“It’s a long process, man. It’s an ongoing process, too. A couple of good games this week doesn’t mean I’m a finished product,” Parsons added. “I definitely feel good. Playing 37 minutes (against Milwaukee) is an awesome sign, and hopefully when I wake up I’ll feel great. My knee feels perfect, and I’m not thinking about it. I’m playing confident, playmaking and defending, and it’s all good.”

Note: The Mavs return to American Airlines Center on Wednesday night, hosting the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors. That game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.

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Injury updates presented by Baylor Emergency Medical Centers:

Deron Williams (left hamstring strain) – questionable

Once healthy, Chandler Parsons may be asked to shoulder heavier scoring load in ’15-16

DALLAS — He’s been known for his versatility since entering the NBA four seasons ago, filling up the stat sheet in a variety of ways at the small forward position. However, four-year pro Chandler Parsons may be asked to be more of a scoring threat during the upcoming season.

After spending his first three years in the league with the rival Houston Rockets, Parsons continued to display his heralded versatility while battling through nagging injuries during his first season with the Mavericks. Playing in 66 games during the 2014-15 campaign, Parsons averaged 15.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 33.1 minutes per outing. He then found his season cut short after Game 1 of the Mavs’ first-round playoff series against his former team due to a right knee that required arthroscopic surgery to repair a cartilage injury on May 1.

Following the free-agent departure of leading scorer Monta Ellis to Indiana, Parsons may now be asked to shoulder more of the team’s scoring load during the ’15-16 campaign. Still, as Mavs coach Rick Carlisle cautions, it’s unclear how quickly the 6-foot-9 forward can get back to playing at a high level as the team tries to fill a huge void on offense.

“It’s a big void,” Carlisle confessed while speaking on the loss of Ellis in July. “You know, we’re talking about our leading scorer the last two years and a guy that really, to be totally truthful about it, got us back into the playoffs the last couple of years. Without him, I don’t know if we would have been able to do it. He was that important to us.

“We’ve got to get Parsons back to 100 percent, which will happen,” the coach added. “His game has grown a lot. He’s not only a shooter and a scorer, but he’s a playmaker. He’s a defender and a rebounder. He’s one of our best all-around players. As the season went on, his responsibilities grew, and they will continue to grow going forward. … There are going to be plenty of things that he can do to refine his game, even if he’s not on the court going 100 percent. I’ve had long discussions with him about that. There will be no time wasted, and he will continue to get better and be one of the best young players in the game.”

Parsons figures to be even more important to the Mavs this season after finishing third in scoring on the team behind Ellis and 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki in Year 1.

Shooting 46.2 percent from the field, the 26-year-old Parsons also connected on 38 percent from behind the three-point arc to finish second on the team in that department during the regular season. He showed that he could handle a heavier scoring load after a sluggish start to the season as well, stepping up his play in December while averaging 18.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 14 games, in addition to shooting 51.6 percent from the field and 44.7 percent from behind the three-point arc during that span.

Parsons picked back up that aggressive play in April after battling back from a bone bruise and left ankle sprain, averaging 17.2 points on 50.8 percent shooting from the field and connecting on 42.9 percent from long range in 10 games during the month. He’ll now try to pick up where he left off at prior to the knee injury, hoping to again showcase his versatility while leading the Mavericks back into championship contention.

“I’ve never been hurt in my career,” Parsons explained. “I think I missed more games this year than I did my entire first three years, which is extremely frustrating. Obviously, being a new guy on a new team and in new city, everything was just brand new with me. A lot of times I’m trying to get acclimated and get used to it. I’m just disappointed I couldn’t play in the playoffs. That’s the most fun time of the year, and what you come here to do is compete for a championship. For me, not being able to do that this year was devastating and frustrating. I’ve never really went through anything like that. It was a pretty down year for me, just from the standpoint I couldn’t help. I couldn’t play in the playoffs and help my team compete for a championship.”

With Ellis no longer manning the opposite wing, Parsons will certainly be called upon to help replace the 18.9 points per game that departs from the Dallas lineup. That’s an opportunity the young forward is eagerly awaiting, hoping to become more of a focal point in the offense after also playing in the shadows of perennial All-Stars James Harden and Dwight Howard during his time in Houston.

Immediately beginning his rehabilitation process after the season, Parsons fully expects to be ready by Opening Night in Phoenix on Oct. 28. And while vowing to return from the injury stronger than ever, Parsons could see a spike in his scoring numbers as the ball figures to be in his hands more going forward.

“With this knee injury, I think it’ll be a blessing in disguise,” Parsons proclaimed after watching helplessly as the Mavericks fell in five games to the Rockets. “I’ll be able to work on all aspects of my game. I’ll be able to get much stronger, and I’ll be able to get much faster. I’ll feel like a new guy with a new game. Being 27 at the start of next year, obviously it’s not ideal, but it’s good timing and I’ll be able to do things and spend time with things I never have before. I’ll get in the gym, work on my shot, work on everything, and just continue to be a versatile player and do a little bit of everything on the floor.

“I’m going into my prime. I think I’m ready. I feel like this year was more of a year to get comfortable and get my feet wet. I had some big games. Next year, I hope for a much bigger role. I want the ball in my hands. I want good players around me. I think we have a chance to make some noise next year. Like I said, this year was a little frustrating, mostly just health-wise with the ankle and the foot, and then with the knee. So, my biggest goal right now is to do whatever I have to do to fix my knee, no matter how long that’s going to be. I think that’ll be good, because it will allow me to basically reset my body and take time to work on my foot and my hips. And it will allow me to get stronger than I have ever been and not too overweight, hopefully.”

After offseason surgery, Chandler Parsons preps for larger role in ’15-16

DALLAS — While his 2014-15 campaign didn’t end the way he had hoped, Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons says there were things he can build on following his first season with the team.

Signing a lucrative contract with the Mavericks during free agency last summer, Parsons hoped to accept a larger role in Dallas after spending his first three seasons in Houston. However, after getting off to a slow start, Parsons would take time to find his niche with the Mavs before coming on strong to close the 82-game schedule.

The 6-foot-9 forward also found himself battling nagging ankle and foot injuries, playing in 66 games while emerging as the Mavericks’ third-leading scorer. And after missing the final six regular-season matchups due to a right knee injury, Parsons would have his playoff run cut short by playing in just the first outing of the Mavs’ first-round exit at the hands of the Rockets in five games.

“It was a little bit up and down,” Parsons said while summing up his first season with the Mavs. “I’ve never been hurt in my career. I think I missed more games this year than I did my entire first three years, which is extremely frustrating. Obviously, being a new guy on a new team and in a new city, everything was just brand new with me. A lot of times I’m trying to get acclimated and get used to it. I’m just disappointed I couldn’t play in the playoffs. That’s the most fun time of the year and that’s what you come here to do, competing for a championship. For me, not being able to do that this year was devastating and frustrating. I’ve never really went through anything like that. It was a pretty down year for me just from the standpoint I couldn’t help. I couldn’t play in the playoffs and help my team compete for a championship.”

Averaging 15.7 points on 46.2 percent shooting, Parsons connected on 38 percent from behind the three-point arc as well to finish second on the team in that department during the regular season. Parsons also grabbed 4.9 rebounds and dished out 2.4 assists an outing, which proved the be the second-lowest in both areas so far in his young career.

Struggling through the first month of the season, Parsons stepped up his play in December while averaging 18.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 14 games, shooting 51.6 percent from the field and 44.7 percent from behind the three-point arc during that span. He regained his form in April as well, averaging 17.2 points on 50.8 percent shooting and 42.9 percent from long range in 10 games during the month.

And despite a pending knee surgery this summer, it’s those glimpses of versatility that have the Mavericks encouraged about what the budding star will be able to do going forward.

“His game has grown a lot,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said of Parsons’ first season in Dallas. “He’s not only a shooter and a scorer, but he’s a playmaker. He’s a defender and a rebounder. He’s one of our best all-around players. As the season went on, his responsibilities grew, and they will continue to grow going forward. This is a period where he’s going to have surgery and recover. There are going to be plenty of things that he can do to refine his game, even if he’s not on the court going 100 percent. I’ve had long discussions with him about that. There will be no time wasted, and he will continue to get better and be one of the best young players in the game.”

“We would have loved to have had the full squad to have a good shot at (the Rockets), so I think that Parsons injury hurt us pretty good there,” 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki added. “I thought he was playing really good basketball after he came back from his ankle injury. He played really well, and then the knee thing happened. That was unfortunate. Injuries are part of the game, unfortunately. … I think as the season got along he did more and more. He actually had some great games there before he got hurt with his knee where he got the ball, pick-and-rolled it and took some big shots. Just more of the same really. Some ballhandling on some pick-and-rolls, some show-and-goes and he’s great on the fast break. I don’t think he’ll ever be the player where we give it to him and say, ‘Create a shot.’ I’m not sure if that’s his game. I’m not sure if that will ever be his game. He’s great on the move. He’s great on pick-and-rolls. He’s a great passer for his size, and just doing more of that and being more efficient doing so.”

The Mavericks certainly missed those attributes after Parsons was ruled out of the team’s first-round series following Game 1.

The 26-year-old Parsons attempted to play through his aching right knee as the series began, scoring 10 points, grabbing six rebounds and dishing out two assists in 37 minutes of work during a 118-108 defeat. However, after re-aggregating the injury and meeting with team physician Dr. T.O. Souryal, Parsons and the organization agreed that surgery will be needed this offseason to address whatever caused swelling in the knee.

And although it’s unclear what knee procedure the versatile forward will undergo or his timetable for a return to the court, the Mavs are confident that Parsons will be able to come back primed and ready for a larger role next season.

“I know, especially with the series and the balance, he absolutely wanted to be out there and he really pushed the envelop for the best interest of the Mavericks in Game 1,” team president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said of Parsons’ willingness to play through the injury. “We want to make sure we get that right. We’re going to have the best of the best look at him and do the procedure. And we’re hopeful with our medical staff, that is second to none in the league, and our doctors, that he’ll be ready for next year.”

“I’m going into my prime. I think I’m ready,” Parsons said while eagerly awaiting a larger role going forward. “I feel like this year was more of a year to get comfortable and get my feet wet. I had some big games. Next year, I hope for a much bigger role. I want the ball in my hands. I want good players around me. I think we have a chance to make some noise next year. Like I said, this year was a little frustrating, mostly just health-wise with the ankle and the foot and then with the knee. So, my biggest goal right now is to do whatever I have to do to fix my knee, no matter how long that’s going to be. I think that’ll be good, because it will allow me to basically reset my body and take time to work on my foot and my hips. And it will allow me to get stronger than I have ever been and not too overweight, hopefully.”