HOUSTON - With training camp mere weeks away, several Rockets players are already back on the Toyota Center practice court, working to get ready for the upcoming season. To find out what they’ve been up to this offseason, Rockets.com’s Jason Friedman will sit down with each player over the next few weeks to discuss what they’re working on, what their goals are, and how they’ve been spending the summer both on and off the court.
Taking his turn in the hot seat today is second-year forward Chandler Parsons. What follows is a transcript of their conversation.
JCF: I’ve noticed a lot of talk about Chandler Parsons nicknames of late. I saw Daryl Morey and Matt Bullard discussing that very topic via Twitter last week. What do you want to be called?
CP: Honestly, I was kind of feeling the Chandler Bang for a little bit ...
JCF: I always thought that one fit the best.
CP: I like that. I hate Mad Chicken. I think that’s the corniest, most awful nickname ever. And I can’t be CP; there can only be one CP in the NBA. So I think I like Chandler Bang.
JCF: Well I’m glad we cleared that up right off the bat. Anyway, it’s been a little while since we’ve seen you. I know you’ve been bouncing all over the place this summer with friends and family – what was the highlight of this offseason for you?
CP: Just being able to travel and spend time with my family. I was able to go to this island called Nevis with my parents and my girl. I went to Antigua, which is also in the Caribbean and where my brother goes to medical school. Those were two beautiful places and I really enjoyed finally getting a chance to just kick back and hang out with them. I went to New York a couple of times and Vegas a couple times. I went to Chicago for Lollapalooza. I’d never been to a music festival so Lollapalooza was ridiculous.
JCF: Who was your favorite act?
CP: I liked Avicii a lot. They and the Red Hot Chili Peppers were great. I was there with Joakim Noah and Taurean Green – all our friends from Florida went.
JCF: Oh man, you were hanging out with Joakim Noah? I’ll be sure not to ask about the details of that trip.
CP: (laughs) It was a blast. We were right there on stage for most of the weekend. Getting to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Avicii that way was incredible.
Then for the rest of the summer I’ve been in and out of Gainesville working out with the coaching staff there. I worked a lot on my strength and agility and quickness this offseason and it’s really shown in pick-up games. I’ve been doing shooting sessions twice a day the last three weeks and my shot feels really good.
JCF: I recall last year the coaches really emphasized the importance of getting enough arc on your jumper; that your shot had a tendency to be a bit too flat at times due to form, fatigue or whatever. Has that been something you’ve had front and center in your mind while working on your shot this summer?
CP: Yeah, definitely. When I would get tired in games I had a tendency to shoot the ball almost as if I was aiming it, which would cause it to be flat because I wasn’t using my legs. So first and foremost, I’ve definitely been emphasizing getting my legs stronger – which they are much stronger now. I want to shoot the ball high and soft, especially at the free throw line. But the biggest thing is that I’ve been working on trying to shoot the same shot every single time from all over the floor. And I’m going to have the ball in my hands a lot this year so I want to be able to get to the free throw line and convert when I get there.
JCF: Percentage wise, are there marks that you’re looking to hit from the three-point and free throw lines?
CP: I haven’t really put down numbers but I need my free throw percentage to drastically improve. I’d like to be 75 percent or higher. I shot about 34 percent from three last year so that’s not terrible, but I want to get that up in the 37-40 range this year – that would be great.
JCF: You mentioned being more of a playmaker this year – what’s your comfort level with that and do you feel comfortable creating with either hand at this point?
CP: Definitely. I’m very comfortable. At Florida I was basically in pick-and-roll every single possession. Last year I saw a little bit of it and this year I think I’ll see more. I think with my size I can see over defenses and I’ve got a good feel for the game. I want to find my guys their shots. So I think once I start knocking down my shot more consistently it will open up my drive game and take it to a whole new level.
JCF: This team is really young, but it has some very interesting weapons from a positional versatility standpoint. Jeremy Lin will obviously be the primary playmaker, but with guys like you and Royce White – players who can play multiple positions and create for yourselves and others – and even someone like Terrence Jones – a physical guy who can bang inside but also produce from the wings on occasion – this group is going to be fascinating to watch to see how it all comes together.
CP: Yeah, I think people are going to be shocked. Obviously we’ve got some talent. And people forget about Kevin Martin, but he can really score the ball, too. He’s an elite scorer in the NBA. Royce and Terrence can really make plays from the stretch four position. Patrick Patterson is in unbelievable shape right now and is getting better every day. Asik on the defensive end is just an animal. Jeremy Lamb can fill it up.
I think we’ve got a lot of guys who can really do a lot of different things; they’re very versatile and it’s really going to throw some defenses off and it’s going to shock some people. We understand we may not be talent-wise better than everyone else, but we’re going to work extremely hard because we’re going to have to earn every win we get.
JCF: Jeremy Lin is a guy you really seemed to connect with right away – I know you both have had crazy summers but have you been able to stay in touch with him at all over the last couple months?
CP: Definitely. We’ve been talking back and forth, especially about living arrangements – we’re trying to figure that out right now. We’ve stayed in touch and talked about all sorts of different things – how he’s doing, how I’m doing – and just talking about everything from a team standpoint in terms of how we can get better.
He spent time in Taiwan with David Lee who’s one of my real good friends so I was in touch with both of them, but Jeremy is excited to get back here and I’m ready for him to get back here so we can get on the floor together and start building that chemistry.
JCF: How do you feel that you’re different today as a person and player than you were this time a year ago?
CP: I think I’m much different. Physically, I’m a lot stronger and a lot of faster. I’ve tightened up my handle a lot so that when I get the ball off a rebound I can just go with it, push the ball up the court and make plays. My shot is improving, my defense, my IQ, it’s all there. I’ve worked hard on my all-around game and I think it’s shown.
JCF: Can’t let you go without asking if you’ve finally emerged from your Justin Bieber adoration stage?
CP: Listen, I’m not a hater, OK? I like Justin Bieber. I think he’s doing his thing and he’s a talented guy. I’m not jocking him by any means but I think he’s very talented and he’s good at what he does.
And for the record: He looks like me – I don’t look like him (laughs).