MikeCheck: Grizzlies Offseason Outlook – Chandler Parsons
MEMPHIS – It wasn’t supposed to go down like this.
But after a tumultuous season that included a controversial early-season coaching change, a rash of injuries, the eventual loss of two top scorers and the longest losing streak in the Memphis era of the franchise, the Grizzlies hit the offseason eager to push the reset button.
They are out of the playoffs for the first time in eight years, and headed toward the May 15 Draft Lottery assured of a top-five pick in the June 21 NBA Draft. So there’s reason to hope. There are also expectations – with catalysts Mike Conley and Marc Gasol still under contract, encouraging development of a few young prospects and the full midlevel exception to use in free agency – that this disappointing season in Memphis was a single bump in the road on a path back to playoff contention.
Over the next few weeks, Grind City Media’s ‘Offseason Outlook’ breaks down my personal analysis as to where the coach, general manager and each player on the Grizzlies’ roster stand in the process.
Player: Chandler Parsons, 29
Measurables: 6-10, 230 – 7th NBA Season
2017-18 Stats:7.9ppg, 2.5rpg, 1.9apg in 19.2mpg, shot career-high 42.1% from three-point range.
Status: Due $24.1 million for 2018-19 salary in third season of a four-year deal.
Scored in double figures 11 times, including a season-high 24 points in 19 minutes on Oct. 28 against Houston to set a franchise record for most points by a player who logged 20 or fewer minutes.
If incremental progress was the goal, then Parsons took a few small steps in the right direction in Year Two with Memphis. Very small. He played in two more games than he did in his first Grizzlies season, and shot a career-high 42.1-percent on threes in 36 appearances. He probably could have played in 50 or so games had the season not derailed so rapidly. Under former coach David Fizdale, Parsons was headed toward a drastically reduced role and a full-time shift to power forward. But after the coaching change, when healthy, Parsons showed flashes of playmaking, shot-making and energy that keep fans hoping for more. Credit Parsons for toning it down on social media this year and avoiding trolls and unnecessary controversy. He puts in the work. Now, if only his body can consistently respond.
For the fourth consecutive year, Parsons has had a season cut short – at least in part – by a procedure on his knees. He’s played in only 70 of a possible 164 regular-season games since he arrived in Memphis expected to be the missing, complementary piece to get the Grizzlies back into contention for the Western Conference finals. That assessment is proving to be way off. If anything, Parsons’ knee issues and bloated contract have made him an albatross of sorts the front-office staff must desperately try to work around. Some league execs believe the combination of injury history, age and hefty salary have saddled Memphis with two (Parsons, Conley) of the NBA’s most difficult contracts to move. There’s no denying the hard truth. The Grizzlies are getting an absolute minimum return on a max investment.
Cynics would suggest there’s upside in the fact that the Grizzlies are already halfway through the four-year, $94 million contract Parsons signed in 2016 free agency. Publicly, front-office hope remains. General manager Chris Wallace uses the Vince Carter model to suggest Parsons may be headed for the type of third-year breakthrough Carter experienced after his first two injury-riddled, subpar seasons in Memphis. Privately, the Grizzlies should consider trading down in the lottery if there’s a way to unload the rest of Parsons’ deal. Otherwise, the best the franchise can hope at this stage is that he gives you 50 or 60 games in his current role at 20 minutes a night off the bench. Parsons can’t live up to the contract the Grizzlies gave him. But it doesn’t mean he can’t add meaningful value to the rotation.
I don’t think any of us have ever lost at the rate we did. It’s very humbling. This is never the way you want a season to go. This is unacceptable. We all have to individually work on our crafts, come back with a positive attitude and make sure this doesn’t happen again. I had moments this year where I felt good and felt like myself, and I had moments where the soreness and stiffness were just too much. I want to play. I want to be healthy. And I’m doing everything in my power to get there.
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Memphis Grizzlies. All opinions expressed by Michael Wallace are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Memphis Grizzlies or its Basketball Operations staff, owners, parent companies, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Memphis Grizzlies and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.