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Onward And Upward

Chandler Parsons looks ahead to busy offseason

HOUSTON - Chandler Parsons’ mind keeps drifting back to the nine-tenths of a second that changed his life forever. Taking part in the same agonizing exercise that has no doubt consumed every single fan of the team as well, the Rockets’ forward can’t help himself from revisiting the sequence of events that led up to Damian Lillard’s series-winning shot Friday night.

“I keep thinking: What could we have done differently?” pondered Parsons. “Why didn’t I block him and not let him come off? Why didn’t we switch? Why didn’t we have the guy on the ball facing the other way? Just every little thing you try to break down. But at the end of the day one play doesn’t cost you the game. (Lillard) hit a ridiculous shot, but we had chances all series long to win this series.”

That logical (though still painful) conclusion hammered home the cold, hard reality facing the Rockets as their offseason officially gets underway: improvements still must be made for this club to get where it wants to go. Player after player expressed that exact sentiment during their exit interviews with the media today and Parsons was certainly no exception.

“When we play the right way and we play together, we have a chance to be really good,” he said. “I think this series just showed you how important every possession is. All the little things the coaching staff emphasized all year long with loose balls and charges and offensive rebounds, little things like that are just so magnified in the playoffs that they cost you games – they cost us three games not doing all those little things.

“We can’t have any hidden agendas. We have to go out there and everyone has to have the same goals. Our goal was to win a championship, and now we have to watch someone else hold up that trophy at the end of the year. We have to watch a team that we played all year long and beat compete for something that we wanted. It’s tough. We have to remember this feeling, put in the work this summer, and come back hungry and ready to dominate.”

To that end, Parsons indicated that he wants to emphasize offseason work that promotes his ability to improve as a defender.

“I pride myself on being very versatile and being able to do everything, but I just need to continue to get stronger, work on my handle, be able to create my shot more and just put all my focus and energy on the defensive end. We have guys that can score the basketball but we have to have that mindset that we can come out here and beat teams and I can be that guy who can lock down the other team’s best scorer … It’s going to be all about mindset next year, coming in as a killer and doing whatever it takes to be a champion.”

This summer promises to be a pivotal one for Parsons off the court as well. The Rockets have until June 29 to decide whether to exercise an option on the 25-year-old’s contract that would bring him back for one more year before he becomes an unrestricted free agent, or decline it and make him a restricted free agent this summer, giving the team the ability to match any offer Parsons receives should they so desire. Not surprisingly, Parsons says it’s still too soon for him to focus on such matters, but he made it very clear that his strong preference is to stay in Houston for the long haul.

“I haven’t really thought about it much,” he said when asked about his contract status. “I still want to be playing right now. I don’t want to think about the contract or next year, but it’s going to come to a point I’m going to have to. I know it will be an exciting time.

“Restricted, unrestricted, really doesn't matter to me. I just want to be in a good situation. I want to be on a winning team and I think that can happen here.

“I’m not trying to go anywhere else. Obviously I have to do what’s best for my career but I love it here. I love the fans, I love the city. This has been home for me the last three years so we’ll see what happens, but I’m very happy here, I love the situation I have here and I really do think we have a chance to be really special here.”