Even if Chandler Parsons sat out every game of this upcoming season, he’d still be a strong contender for the MVP on the Houston Rockets. That’s because no contribution that Parsons can make on the court, outside of morphing into a LeBron James clone, will surpass what he did for the Rockets off the floor: recruiting Dwight Howard.
Parsons was amongst the group of players, former players and executives that the Rockets sent out to Los Angeles to meet with Howard when free agency began and played a critical part in convincing Dwight to leave the Lakers. Parsons’ recruiting of Dwight didn’t start that night, though, as the two had been friends since Parsons was in college at the University of Florida and have shared an agent since May.
“I think I had a big impact,” Parsons told Yahoo! Sports about his role in getting Dwight to Houston. “The first thing he said at the press conference was that, ‘You guys should thank Chandler Parsons because he is a big reason why I am here.’ I think I just gave him that comfort that you got one of your boys here who is also a key part to the team.”
Dwight being someone that has other interests outside of basketball and clearly enjoys joking around in the lockerroom, surrounding him with people he likes to be around may be just as important as surrounding him with players that fit with his game. And Parsons just so happens to fit with Dwight on and off the floor.
“We got a lot of guys that are just friends. We enjoy playing with each other. We hang out off the court,” Parsons told me. “I think we are going to do something really special. ”
We thought the same thing of the Lakers last season when they landed Dwight Howard around this time, but the one thing that team never had, and never really had a shot at having, was camaraderie. Kobe is the kind of leader that demands excellence out of his teammates and isn’t afraid to berate them openly if they don’t live up to expectations. Howard has the exact opposite personality and was never going to completely dedicate himself under those circumstances, especially when he also didn’t see eye-to-eye with the coach.
Howard will be the class clown of any lockerroom he steps into, and his act didn’t sit well with the veteran laden Lakers. The Rockets offer him a lockerroom with a much more relatable and hospitable crowd.
“We’re the youngest team in the league,” Parsons said. “We love playing basketball, we have fun doing it. We’re gonna smile, we’re gonna laugh, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t’ going to work hard. We’re going to really get after it.”
Houston offers Howard a much more open, friendly and jovial environment, one that much better suits his personality. The players are younger and more animated than the veteran Lakers and Kevin McHale should also fit extremely well with Howard, as he’s a player’s coach that loves to rib his guys in good fun. Of course, Mike D’Antoni is also a pretty playful coach, but his dislike of post-up offense doomed his relationship with Howard from the start.
Now that he’s in a situation tailor made for his particular charisma and playing for an organization that fell head over heels for him, assuming he’s healthy, Howard should be back to being one of the five best players in the league this season.
The Rockets also offer Howard a tremendous supporting cast basketball wise, and Parsons is a big part of that as well. Houston’s roster has continued rounding out since Howard signed with the team and things look even better than they did then. The Rockets have brought back Fransisco Garcia and Aaron Brooks, added a pair of solid wing players in Omri Casspi and Reggie Williams, signed big man Marcus Camby and they drafted Isaiah Canaan back in June, all of which will cost the team about $5.5 million this season. When you have over $33 million committed to your two max players, in addition to the $16 million Houston has committed to their two big pick-ups from last summer (Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin), it’s vital for the general manager to unearth good players that will play for minimum contracts, and there’s nobody better at that than Daryl Morey.
In that sense, Howard and Parsons represent the completion of Morey’s rise to elite status as an NBA executive.
Parsons was not a highly regarded NBA prospect when he graduated from Florida, but Morey saw something in Parsons when he was a Gator and landed him with a second round pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Since then Parsons has developed into the NBA’s best bargain, offering up a multitude of services at the small forward spot for less than a million dollars a year (and his recruiting services are just a bonus). It’s a similar story for Patrick Beverley, the best point guard on the roster, who Morey plucked from Russia and signed to a deal that won’t pay him over $1 million a year for another two seasons.
Once Morey landed James Harden last season, a trade that came about because of his asset compiling, of course, the only thing left for him to do was to attract a max free agent to Houston. And thanks to the players, and the people, that he put in place heading into this off-season, he can now cross that off his bucket list, too.
“He’s brilliant,” Parsons said of Morey. “He knows exactly what he’s doing. He made some moves last year that people questioned, but it was all apart of his plan. And it is starting to work out for us.”