Morning Shootaround

Shootaround (Nov. 19): Parsons, Cuban no longer 'bros'

NBA.com Staff

Parsons, Cuban no longer `bros’ | The progression of Mudiay is slow | Westbrook and Harden trying to pull a Tiny

No. 1. Parsons, Cuban no longer `bros’: One of the more surprising breakups of the last few years, aside from Dywane Wade and the Heat, is Chandler Parsons no longer with the Mavericks. Owner Mark Cuban boasted about poaching Parsons from the Rockets a few years ago in free agency, and Parsons was on the front line in recruiting, unsuccessfully as it turned out, DeAndre Jordan. But last summer Parsons bolted the Mavericks in free agency and left behind some scorched earth. Here’s the story from Tim MacMahon of ESPN on how it all happened:

As bizarre as that scene might seem, it was business (and pleasure) as usual for the Cuban-Parsons bromance, as unique an owner-player relationship as any since Jerry Buss and Magic Johnson.

Cuban has never shied away from developing friendships with players, dating back to putting up Dennis Rodman in his guest house weeks after Cuban bought the Mavs. Although Cuban has gone clubbing with dozens of players in the nearly two decades since, both Cuban and Parsons say their friendship was different. They were two peas in a pod, perhaps the league’s most personable player clicking with certainly the league’s most outgoing owner.

“We’re boys. We’re friends,” Parsons tells ESPN. “Yeah, he was the owner of the team, but I didn’t look at him any differently [than other friends]. We did stuff. We enjoyed similar activities off the court. We were friends hanging out.”

Parsons had joined the Mavericks by signing his three-year, $46 million offer sheet within feet of bass-booming speakers at a club called Attic in his hometown of Orlando, Florida. That moment went viral after Parsons’ college buddy Dan Morgan (aka @DMoSwag) tweeted a selfie of himself with Cuban and Parsons cheesing after the ink was dry on the deal.Parsons had a lot of reasons to think they could get Jordan.

He had known him for a decade, after meeting on the summer camp circuit as teenagers — and he knew Jordan did not feel at home with the Clippers and was open to moving. It also didn’t hurt that Jordan and Parsons both had the same agent, Dan Fegan, at that time.

The Mavs would then need only a 3-and-D shooting guard — they later signed Wesley Matthews — and they’d be off and running with a core of Jordan, Parsons and Nowitzki.

Cuban rubber-stamped the plan, as Parsons spearheaded one of the highest-profile recruiting efforts in recent NBA history, rarely leaving Jordan’s side in the weeks leading up to free agency, wining and dining the big man in his hometown of Houston and in L.A.

Parsons joined Cuban on the owner’s private jet for a pair of flights to L.A., where Cuban filmed “Shark Tank” episodes in the week leading up to free agency. One night Cuban and several acquaintances from the show went to the Hollywood club Bootsy Bellows. NBA rules prohibit team officials like Cuban from hanging out with other team’s prospective free agents while they’re under contract. But there are no such constraints on players. Parsons just happened to be entertaining Jordan and Matthews in the same place at the same time. Cuban coyly waved from across the club, while Parsons laid the groundwork for the Mavs’ free agency plans.

When free agency arrived in earnest, Cuban was freed from NBA tampering rules. Parsons organized an all-you-can-eat sushi feast at Nobu Malibu in the opening hour of free agency. Cuban attended, as did Nowitzki, who flew in from New York for the occasion. It was an appetizer to the Mavs’ official pitch the next morning, one of many free agency meetings for Jordan.

A few days later, Cuban and Parsons returned to L.A. on Cuban’s private jet. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision by Cuban, who wanted to make sure the Mavs got the last word after Jordan wrapped up his official meetings. The surprise visit to the center’s house seemed to work: Cuban secured a verbal commitment from Jordan.

Patron shots were poured and downed as Cuban, Parsons, Jordan and the big man’s family celebrated that morning. Cuban and Parsons kept the party going the rest of the day and night. They headed to Manhattan Beach, where Cuban owns a home, and had a liquid lunch at Shellback Tavern, a favorite Cuban watering hole. Joined by a horde of friends and business acquaintances, they eventually stumbled across Manhattan Beach Boulevard to Strand House.

“Parsons, get out of the street!” a tipsy Cuban hollered during a call-in appearance on Dallas radio station 1310 The Ticket, one of a few interviews that day that led to the league office fining Cuban for violating terms of the NBA’s moratorium period.

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No. 2. The progression of Mudiay is slow: Emmanuel Mudiay, who was hailed as the point guard of the future when the Nuggets drafted him two summers ago, is shooting 35 percent and averaging just 3.5 assists. His progression as a savvy, play-making point guard who involves others and hits open jumpers has been slow, maybe slower than the club expected. While the Nuggets have nothing to lose by giving Mudiay plenty of opportunities right now, at some point this season they’d like to see growth. Here’s Mark Kizla of the Denver Post on the growing pains:

Has the good of the team been sacrificed for the education of Mudiay? This is a franchise feeling pressure to win games and put fannies in the Pepsi Center seats. But too often it seems as if the primary job of coach Michael Malone is to babysit Mudiay, a raw 20-year-old point guard whose lack of refinement is as obvious as his poor passing and worse shooting.

If basketball is a meritocracy — or the Nuggets harbor any real hope of reaching the NBA playoffs — then it makes little sense that Mudiay, one of the league’s worst point guards by any measure, has played 349 minutes, second only to teammate Danilo Gallinari through 11 games.

Something has to give. There’s no room on a team with little margin for error to let Mudiay work through all his errors on the court.

“Let’s be honest, if there’s a situation where (Mudiay) is not playing well, or anybody else is not playing well, we have the depth to make changes,” Malone said Thursday. “We want to win games. A big part of last year was culture and development. This year … if we’re healthy, we feel it needs to be about winning, as well, to get our fans back and to feel good about the direction we’re heading in.”

This is not intended to bash Mudiay. He was a good get by the Nuggets with the seventh choice in the 2015 draft. But each clanked 15-foot jumper by Mudiay during a catch-and-shoot drill near the end of practice was a not-so-subtle reminder Denver might have drafted a solid point guard rather than a perennial all-star in a league ruled by Steph Curry and Russell Westbrook.

There are simply too many holes in Mudiay’s game. As a rookie, he shot 36.4 percent from the field, and his accuracy is slightly worse this season. His assists are down. His turnovers are up. He is big for a point guard, but not particularly explosive, which explains why Mudiay has trouble finishing at the rim. His confidence is as capricious as an adolescent.

When I pointed out the analytics suggesting he was the worst starting point guard in the league throughout most of last season, there were screams of objection from Mudiay apologists that refused to look at anything except his 6-foot-5 frame and his birth date.

Well, the reality of Mudiay’s many flaws have set in and Malone now says: “He’s very hard on himself, so it doesn’t help if I come in and hammer that over the head. I have to uplift. And we have to come up with a plan to help him. He’s more than willing to participate in his own recovery.”

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No. 3. Westbrook and Harden trying to pull a Tiny: Russell Westbrook and James Harden are among the league leaders in scoring and assists and assume a load of responsibility for their teams. If this keeps up, the league could see a player lead everyone in both categories, which would be a first since Nate “Tiny” Archibald pulled off the trick for the Kansas City Kings in 1972-73. Mark Stein of ESPN caught up with Archibald recently to get his thoughts:

Nate Archibald is watching James Harden and Russell Westbrook closely. He finds himself talking about them with increasing frequency.

The NBA legend universally known as Tiny, most of all, is rooting for one of them to do what only Archibald has done in this game: Lead the league in both scoring and assists in the same season.

Yet he’s convinced that Harden and Westbrook, like Archibald himself some 43 years ago, aren’t consciously trying to pull a Tiny.

Record-book glory, he insists, is just the unintended bonus.”It wasn’t by design when I did it,” Archibald told ESPN.com by phone this week, harking back to his 1972-73 season with the Kansas City/Omaha Kings, when he averaged 34.0 points and 11.4 assists.

“I tell people it was by desire.

“I wanted to go out and win games. I had a coach [in Bob Cousy] who told me: ‘Your ball, your team. How far you go is how far we go.’ That’s what Cous did for me. And I think both of them [Harden and Westbrook] are in the same place. Neither one of those guys are out to break records.”

That’s just one of the reasons Archibald, now 68, feels a kinship with both of these box-score-stuffers even though he doesn’t know them personally.

Harden isn’t just a fellow lefty any more. The Beard’s partnership with new Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, who broke into the NBA as a player with Archibald’s Kings in 1973-74 shortly after Nate’s slice of history, has D’Antoni’s former teammate watching Houston games closer than he ever imagined.

“I didn’t think he was a good passer, but when I saw him in the exhibition season, I was like, ‘Oh my God,'” Archibald said of Harden.

“I thought he could just score, but, man, he changed my mind. Mike D’Antoni got it in his head that you gotta pass the ball to some of your guys, because they can shoot the ball, too.”

With Westbrook, it’s more of a mindset connection. Archibald sees the Oklahoma City Thunder’s relentlessly rim-attacking lead guard as “the hardest-driving guy in the league.”

“He’ll challenge anybody,” Archibald said. “I love that. I wasn’t as big as him, but I loved to take the ball to the rim and challenge bigger guys.”

Truth be told, though, Archibald has bittersweet memories of his finest individual season. The Kings, at 36-46, didn’t make the playoffs in 1972-73 and didn’t win nearly enough to make it an unforgettable campaign. Tiny ranks his five-season stint with the Boston Celtics, which peaked with an All-Star Game MVP trophy as well as a championship in 1981, as the highlight of an NBA career that spanned from 1970-71 through 1983-84.

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Doc Rivers likes what he sees in the Clippers so much that he sees similarities between them and his 2008 Celtics … Jeff Green is struggling in Orlando but can see the light instead of the bench … Hassan Whiteside is not resting on his laurels or his big contract.

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