Transitioning: Can Trevor Ariza Match the Production of Chandler Parsons?


Apr 23, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons (25) attempts to score during the fourth quarter as Portland Trail Blazers center Robin Lopez (42) defends in game two during the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. The Trail Blazers defeated the Rockets 112-105. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

There had been speculation that Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey was going to retain the services of Chandler Parsons even after having inked free agent Trevor Ariza less than 24 hours prior, but that did not turn out to be the case. Morey elected not to match the offer by the Dallas Mavericks, and Parsons will sign with Mark Cuban and the Mavs for four-years, $64 million.

The Rockets will not match the offer sheet to keep Chandler Parsons, per source.

— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) July 13, 2014

The Rockets do have more money to spend, after unloading Jeremy Lin to the Los Angeles Lakers and having reached an agreement to  ship Omer Asik to the New Orleans Pelicans, as part of the Ariza acquisition.  David Aldridge reports the Rockets will also obtain Alonzo Gee and a 2015 protected pick from New Orleans.  The protection of the pick in question was undisclosed.

Still, at this point, the biggest hole remains at power forward. Morey tried to address it by signing Chris Bosh, who ultimately chose to remain a member of the Miami Heat. The Bulls then reached an agreement with a likely plan B, and signed Pau Gasol.

That leaves the Rockets to either choose among a much smaller pool, or just wait and spend the money next summer. The problem is, if the team doesn’t spend the money this summer, it will almost certainly regress.

That is to say, Chandler Parsons is a better player than Trevor Ariza, no matter how the bargain spin is delivered.

Parsons is a great analytics player, high percentages, and he rarely turns the ball over. His production had increased every year as a pro. It is quite likely Parsons assumes a large role in the Mavericks offense and continues to improve.

May 5, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Washington Wizards forward Trevor Ariza (1) points after scoring against the Indiana Pacers in game one of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Washington defeats Indiana 102-96. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Ariza, meanwhile, has played his best basketball and more or less peaked. He’s 30 years old, and coming off a career season…but it was a contract-year, a factor which a lot of GMs now see as a red flag.  Ariza struggled shooting the ball in his previous two-season stint with the Rockets, but his shot has been refined a lot since then.

Ariza will also benefit from the open looks generated by the Rockets’ use of threes-in-transition.  The fit is good.

Ariza played an instrumental role in the Wizards thrashing of the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the 2014 playoffs.  Ariza posted averages of 14.4 points per game, 6.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting 45.6 percent from the floor and a career-high 40.7 percent from distance.

In the playoffs, Ariza took to the boards, grabbing 8.9 per game, while also netting 44 percent from behind the arc.  He will be able to moonlight at the power forward slot, much like Parsons did, when Kevin McHale opted to go with a small ball lineup.

Ariza is also a better defender than Chandler Parsons at this point.

So, the drop off won’t be much from what Parsons produced last year.

But this is about more than just what Parsons has done already.

Nov 20, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons (25) drives against Dallas Mavericks guard Monta Ellis (11) at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Parsons is a player on the rise, at just 26 years of age.  His development had come in a system well suited to his needs, and he had grown to like and trust his teammates, —particularly close friend Dwight Howard (whom Parsons helped recruit to Houston to begin with, by texting Dwight on a daily basis).

But the man had to get paid.  And it’s understandable.

He’d turned in three seasons on a contract paying him less than a million a season, and he is 26 years old. The idea of turning down the Mavs offer sheet ultimately could have backfire if Morey chose to give Chris Bosh the max (and then try to proceed Parsons to take $12 million, or even $10).

Moreover, Gordon Hayward had received a similar offer in the days prior from the Charlotte Hornets. Morey chose to gamble on Bosh and ultimately lost, but he has a chance to salvage the offseason. .

Parsons could eventually make Morey look very foolish, and it stands to reason he could become an All-Star eventually. Make no mistake, it is a downgrade from Parsons to Ariza.  The Rockets at this point are standing just a step lower than last season’s roster.