Update: So much for the sign-and-trade talk. Houston received a signed offer sheet from Dallas, and the Rockets now have until Sunday to match the deal or Parsons will be a Maverick.
A sign and trade between Dallas and Houston will not be happening re: Chandler Parsons, I'm told. The Rockets have the offer sheet.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) July 10, 2014
When the Mavericks agreed to an offer sheet with restricted free agent Chandler Parsons, it appeared to put the Rockets on a very tight deadline to work out a max free agent contract with Chris Bosh and match Parsons' offer sheet in the three-day deadline. Instead, the Rockets may go a different direction and are discussing a sign-and-trade deal with Dallas that would send Parsons to the Mavericks.
"There's communication because there's sign-and-trade possibilities," Mavericks president of operations Donnie Nelson said, via the Dallas Morning News. "There's ways that both sides can win, so it's just an ongoing process. But we as general managers, no matter what the situation, we're always talking and communicating with each other."
Communication about sign-and-trade possibilities doesn't actually mean a deal will be struck, just that it's an option. Let's take a closer look at the possibility of Houston shipping Parsons to Dallas.
Why it makes sense
For Dallas, a sign-and-trade has two major benefits. The main benefit being it secures Parsons and eliminates the chance Houston matches the deal. Dallas is obviously interested enough in the 25-year-old forward to give him a deal worth $15 million per season. Houston could match the deal and the Mavericks would come up empty handed. By working out a sign-and-trade, Dallas eliminates the chance of missing out. The deal could potentially help the Mavericks with the salary cap if other big free agent moves are in the works.
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On Houston's side, a deal would be beneficial if the Rockets do not plan to match Parson's offer sheet. Instead of simply letting the clock expire and lose him for nothing, Houston could receive some assets in return. There are reports the Rockets would pursue Luol Deng, Trevor Ariza or Paul Pierce to replace Parsons. Houston could net an asset in a sign-and-trade and sign a replacement for roughly the same average annual salary.
This could also just be some gamesmanship from the Rockets. Houston and Dallas can only work out a sign-and-trade before Dallas officially delivers a signed offer sheet. If the Rockets can prolong that from happening by discussing a trade, they might be able to buy themselves some extra time by delaying the offer sheet clock. If Parsons signs his offer on Friday instead of Thursday, it would give Houston an extra day to match the deal.
Why it doesn't make sense
The Mavericks are operating from a position of power. Houston is stuck in a holding pattern, needing LeBron James to make a free agent decision. Until that happens, Chris Bosh is unlikely to make a decision. If Dallas delivers a signed offer sheet now, Houston is on a ticking clock that is largely out of its control. If Bosh isn't secured by Sunday, the Rockets could be forced to let Parsons walk for nothing.
Houston is working to purge itself of contracts in order to have maximum salary cap space, so it seems unlikely the Rockets would be interested in taking on salary in a sign-and-trade. That means any deal would likely be built around draft picks. Is Parsons worth $15 million a season and a future first-round pick? Are future second-round picks enough to justify the Rockets enabling talented young player walk to a division rival? The Rockets might be better off trying to get everything done in the three-day window instead.
Likelihood it happens
A potential deal hinges on how Houston values Parsons. If the Rockets consider Parsons a core-member of the future roster, they are best off to take the risk and either match an offer sheet or at least try to work out a deal for Bosh and Parsons. At the very worst, they might miss out on a future second-round pick, or two. If Houston thinks it can replace or even upgrade Parsons in free agency, getting an asset -- any asset -- in return is just a bonus. Everything the Rockets front office has said publicly indicates they value Parsons highly. It doesn't appear Dallas will wait long for a deal to happen as they've already signed a deal with Parsons and are just holding off on officially delivering the offer to Houston, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. If it's going to happen, it probably has to happen quickly and that's been the opposite of free agency this year. Let's peg this right in the middle with a
5 out of 10 chance of happening. The sign-and-trade possibility is now non-existent with Parsons officially signing his offer sheet and the Mavericks delivering it to Houston.