Former Florida Gators forward Chandler Parsons will be headed 240 miles north within the state of Texas to play for the Dallas Mavericks after the Houston Rockets on Sunday declined to match the restricted free agent’s three-year, $46 million offer sheet, a source confirmed to OnlyGators.com.
Before free agency began, Houston decided not to pick up a one-year team option on Parsons for $964,750 in order to clear cap space and pursue a big-name free agent, knowing it would have to match a larger deal to bring him back into the fold.
The Rockets, however, hoped to acquire another player that would put the team in championship contention before using the Bird rights exemption to go over the salary cap and bring back Parsons at a higher salary.
Instead, Houston struck out in free agency and Parsons found an owner in Dallas’ Mark Cuban who desperately wanted his services, so much so that Cuban gave Parsons a contract offer that will likely make him one of the top-25 highest-paid players in the NBA.
OnlyGators.com exclusively reported Wednesday evening that Cuban was en route to Florida to meet with Parsons first thing Thursday morning. The two signed Parsons’s offer sheet at a club, celebrating together after reaching an agreement.
A source told OnlyGators.com on Thursday that Parsons preferred to continue his career with the Mavericks and hoped the Rockets did not match the offer sheet.
The defection of LeBron James from Miami to Cleveland put Houston in contention for the services of Chris Bosh on Friday. The Rockets had decided to bring back Parsons if they were able to acquire Bosh; however, Bosh chose to return to the Heat and Houston has therefore chosen to leave its cap space open for future moves.
Parsons’s three-year contract with Dallas includes a player option for the third season and a 15 percent trade kicker should the Mavericks try to move him at any point during his tenure with the franchise. He could become an unrestricted free agent at the age of 27 and will likely exercise that option if he is playing at the level many expect in two seasons.
Parsons, who averaged career-highs of 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game for the Rockets last year, will have an average salary of $15.3 million over the next three seasons. That figure puts him among the top-20 highest paid players in the league based on NBA salaries paid out in the 2013-14 season.
It will also be the largest average salary ever paid to a former Gators basketball player.
Just last season, Parsons set a Houston team record for most three-pointers in a game when he drained 10 in the second half on the way to a career-high 34 points. He also achieved an NBA record that night for most treys made in one half of a game.
Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle first reported the decision.
Just heard from @dmorey and Mr. Alexander. Nothing but utmost respect for them, the fans and city of Houston. THANK YOU for your support!
— Chandler Parsons (@ChandlerParsons) July 13, 2014
Pretty good Sunday for CP. MT @ESPNSteinLine: ESPN has learned [Chandler] Parsons will be added to Team USA roster announced Monday
— OnlyGators.com (@onlygators) July 13, 2014