Chandler Parsons – Path to the 2011 NBA Draft: Workouts intensify as draft nears

Through the 2011 NBA Draft, Florida Gators forward and 2011 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year Chandler Parsons will be keeping fans up-to-date on his Path to the Draft via a weekly blog entry exclusively here at OGGOA.

Jet-setting across the country working out for nearly every team in the league, Parsons got in touch with us Wednesday while spending a rare day off in Denver, CO. After fitting in four workouts in a handful of days, including traveling to-and-from the northeast, he finally found an opportunity to rest while on the West Coast for a three-meeting swing. Parsons will end his scheduled workouts in Boston, MA on June 20 and will be checking in with us once more before the draft and one more time afterward.

We last spoke with Parsons the night before he met with the New Jersey Nets.

New Jersey went really well. It was the first time I got to workout against Kyle Singler from Duke. Also there was [head coach] Avery Johnson, their GM [Billy King] and basically their whole staff was there watching the workout. I shot well, played well and got really good feedback from them. I felt that they were really big on me.

It was pretty much the same as most of the workouts but there was a lot of drill work. They put us in their plays and sets and had us play out of them – coming off curls, coming off flares, playing one-on-one on different spots on the floor.

After that I went to Washington and that was really cool. Sam Cassel, the old Florida State guy [and now an assistant coach], ran that workout. Their coach was there, Flip Saunders, and that was another really good workout. I talked to my agent [Mark Bartelstein] today, and he said the New Jersey Nets, Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards right now – those three are showing a lot of interest.

I actually got to workout with Vernon Macklin that time and that guy Jeremy Tyler, who didn’t go to college and went straight to Japan. Also there were Malclom Lee from UCLA and Nolan Smith from Duke.

Vernon’s been doing good. I haven’t been working out with him much – he works out for different teams than I do for the most part – but I’m hearing he’s doing really well. I heard he did really well at Portsmouth [Invitational] and I heard he’s been doing good at the workouts. At the workout I did with him, he did really good. The guy he went against, Jeremy Tyler, is a projected first-round pick and Vernon did just as good as he did. He’s working really hard at it.

Those guys [including Alex Tyus] are continuing to help themselves. They’re playing hard, showing their athleticism and, going through this process, they’ve gotten a lot out of it and helped themselves for this draft.

After Washington I went over to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland was tough. It was probably the hardest workout yet. Not just because of length, but they legit had me do running and conditioning, three suicides in two minutes. It was also a great workout. It was me, Kawhi Leonard from San Diego State, Klay Thompson from Washington State and Alec Burks from Colorado. It was top guys, first-round guys in the workout. Everyone was going hard. They did a drill at the end that before even the drill started, the coach pulled us aside and said, ‘This is a really tough drill.’

In the NBA there’s the defensive three seconds. So basically it’s a drill where there’s a coach on one wing, a coach on the top of the key and a player on the other wing. You’re sliding back-and-forth in the lane getting your feet in and your feet out. When the other coach on the wing slides, you have to step up outside the lane, stop him, and then he skips it to the guy and you have to close out and play one-on-one from there. You have to do that for all six of the guys you’re working out against. And that’s after an entire workout – a full-blown shooting, three-on-three, one-on-one and three suicides in two minutes. That was pretty tough.

I was exhausted – exhausted after that. I ate, interviewed and got on a plane to New York City. I flew into LaGuardia [Airport] to work out of the New York Knicks, but it’s not in MSG it’s at their practice facility, which is about an hour away. I got in around 8-9 p.m. and then had to wake up the next morning at 8 a.m. to workout for the Knicks.

The Knicks were awesome. Everybody was there – [head coach Mike] D’Antoni, [director of pro scouting] John Gabriel, [former team president now consultant] Donnie Walsh, [assistant general manager] Allan Houston – their entire staff. It was kind of a last-minute thing, but they wanted to really see me. So it was just me and three other guys. These workouts are tough with six guys, so you can imagine how it is with four guys.

I was going against Justin Harper from Richmond, who is also projected to go first round. It was two-on-two full court instead of three-on-three and a lot of one-on-one drills. Limited breaks because there were less people. It was good. Allan Houston called my agent afterward and said I was a lot more athletic than they thought, competed well and am in really good shape.

I flew out from there last night to Denver. The best part about this whole this is the unlimited room service. So I’ve been eating filet mignon, French onion soup and ahi tuna like it’s my job! I have off all day today, so I woke up with some pancakes, fruit, chocolate milk and went down to the hot tub and the steam room for a while.

Now me and E’Twaun Moore [of Purdue] are going up to the practice gym to get the shots up. I can finally relax and just kind of catch my wind, get the jet leg out of me before another big workout tomorrow.

OGGOA FAN QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK

Q: What is the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome during this draft process?
PARSONS: “Every city, every team I work out for is a job interview. You got to go in there, and you got to prove people wrong. You only have one opportunity for a first impression, so I put all my chips on the table and I go into every workout working as hard as I can, showing these people what I can do. I want to show these teams I’ve gotten more athletic, stronger, that I can handle the ball. I want to show these teams what I can do and how I can help their system.”

Q: Growing up in the Orlando area, was it always your dream to play for the Magic or just to play professionally in the NBA?
PARSONS: “My dream has always been to play in the NBA, but my family has been season ticket holders since day one for the Magic. Looking at the draft and what the Magic have, they only have one pick which is the 53rd pick. Doubtful I’ll be around for the 53rd pick, so my chances of playing for the Magic are very slim. That would have been awesome, but no matter what city I go to I’ll be living my dream. I’ll eventually play in Orlando [on the road]. My family has been so supportive my whole career. I could go to Toronto and they’re going to be at a lot of games. It would be awesome to play in Orlando so I could have my friends and family see me play, but how supportive and how good my family’s been to me, no matter where I go, they’re going to be there.”

Go Gators,

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Haslem turns down big money to stay with Heat

Former Florida Gators power forward Udonis Haslem has decided to turn down substantially larger offers from competing teams in order to remain with the Miami Heat, agreeing to a five-year, $20 million deal on Monday.

“I would be changing my DNA if I left just for money,” he told the Associated Press.

After signing guard Dwyane Wade to a six-year, $107 million contract and forwards LeBron James and Chris Bosh to identical six-year, $110 million deals, Miami immediately concentrated on bringing two former Florida players under contract.

First, the Heat reached an agreement on a five-year, $30 million deal with guard/forward Mike Miller after trading former No. 2 overall pick PF Michael Beasley for cap space and a second round pick. With each of the “big three” sacrificing $15 million over the life of their deals, Miami made a move to bring back Haslem, Wade’s best friend on the team since the superstar was drafted in 2003.

Haslem drew serious interest from at least three other teams who put tempting offers on the table. The Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks each reportedly offered him a five-year, $34 million mid-level exception contract over the weekend, and the New Jersey Nets offered three years and $20 million last week.

“[I] turned down full mid level [exceptions] from Dallas and Denver. See [yo]u next season,” Haslem said in an e-mail to the paper.

Spending almost his entire life playing basketball in the state of Florida (spent one season in France), he decided to turn down higher contracts in order to play with his friend and be a part of what could be a very special team.

Think Haslem is happy to play with Miller again?

“That’s my boy from day one,” he told the Sun-Sentinel. “That’s my college roommate. He’s like Dwyane is to me, just a different color.”

A seven-year NBA veteran, Haslem earned $7.1 million with the Heat last season. He has averaged 10.0 points and 8.1 rebounds throughout his career.

Photo Credit: Gary Dineen/Getty Images

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Heat, Nets, Mavericks interested in Udonis Haslem

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade considers former Florida Gators power forward Udonis Haslem one of his best friends. That is likely one reason why he took almost $3 million less than cohorts forward LeBron James and power forward Chris Bosh when signing with Miami a few days ago – to free up some money to re-sign Haslem.

Unfortunately for Wade and perhaps the Heat as well, Haslem has drawn interest from at least two other teams who have put solid and tempting offers on the table. First the New Jersey Nets and then the Dallas Mavericks each offered him a three-year, $20 million contract over the weekend, hoping to lure Haslem with a guarantee of more money and significantly more playing time.

Though he has spent almost his entire life playing basketball in the state of Florida, loves his home (as evidenced by his back tat) and wants to stick around, Haslem may be at the point in his career where the guarantee of a few million more per season significantly outweighs the ability to play with a close friend.

The Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks and Utah Jazz have been mentioned previously as teams who had expressed interest in Haslem.

A seven-year NBA veteran, he earned $7.1 million last season but is being looked at by New Jersey and Dallas as a full mid-level exception player. Miami can currently only offer $1.1 million per year – the veteran’s minimum – but will likely be able to up that offer as their available salary cap gets clearer.

Haslem has averaged 10.0 points and 8.1 rebounds throughout his career.

Photo Credit: Gary Dineen/Getty Images

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TWO BITS: Haslem’s future, UF’s logo complaint

1 » Seemingly one of a few free agents unable to be re-signed by the Miami Heat after the team acquired guard Dwyane Wade, forward LeBron James and power forward Chris Bosh, former Florida Gators PF Udonis Haslem is currently weighing his options of what team to join next. According to various reports, the Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks, Utah Jazz and New Jersey Nets all have interest in signing the NBA veteran who earned $7.1 million last season. It is also being mentioned that Miami does desire to keep Haslem but can currently only offer him a veteran’s minimum contract of $1.1 million. However, should president and general manager Pat Riley work out dual sign-and-trades with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors, respectively, the team could theoretically re-sign all of their roleplaying free agents. Haslem has averaged 10.0 points and 8.1 rebounds in his seven-year career.

In related news… Former Gators PF Chris Richard has joined the Chicago Bulls‘ summer league team after being waved by the team following the 2009-10 season.

2 » Florida is very conscious of its intellectual property being utilized without consent elsewhere – whether it is for a money-making gimmick or, apparently, the mascot of a small rural school in Arkansas. According to the Associated Press, the Two Rivers School District in Russellville, AR, is being forced to change “the look of its mascot after the University of Florida said it infringed on their trademarked Gator logo and design.” The school will need to spend approximately $8,000 to remove the brand new logo from their gymnasium. Public relations-wise, UF does not come off looking too good here, but the school must protect its intellectual property…and this logo is as bad as it gets!

Photo Credit: Gary Dineen/Getty Images

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Teams in pursuit of NBA free agents Lee, Miller

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Amar’e Stoudamire may be the names being most talked about right now as far as NBA free agency is concerned, but two former Florida Gators products are also highly coveted and being wooed by teams with varying needs throughout the league.

Former New York Knicks forward/center David Lee, who averaged career-highs of 20.2 points and 11.7 rebounds per game in 2009-10, is one of the most prominent second-tier free agents on the market. The Knicks have interest in re-signing Lee, but it appears more likely that he will catch on elsewhere seeing as he does not want to wait and find out whether or not New York hits a home run or strikes out with James.

According to reports, the Boston Celtics were the first team to contact Lee – just after 12:01 a.m. on July 1 – and are pursuing him the strongest. He will also visit with the Chicago Bulls, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Jersey Nets and Miami Heat.

Also available is former Washington Wizards guard/forward Mike Miller, who posted averages of 10.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game last season. The Los Angeles Lakers are hot after Miller and have already offered him a five-year, $30 million contract. They have given him a deadline of July 6 to accept or decline the offer as the team looks to add one more piece for head coach Phil Jackson‘s final season.

Miller previously spoke with the Knicks – who contacted him just after free agency began – and the Heat; he is said to be very intrigued by the possibility of joining New York if the team acquires one or two marquee stars.

UPDATE: After signing point guard Steve Blake to a four-year, $16 million contract, the Lakers have withdrawn their offer for Miller; however, he is expected to be a person of interest as a complimentary peace for teams that sign the major players in free agency.

Photo Credit: Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

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