The Dallas Mavericks made an aggressive move in free agency on Wednesday, agreeing to a three-year offer sheet worth $45 million with restricted free agent Chandler Parsons, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com. The deal could have a major impact on Houston's pursuit of Chris Bosh and will at the very minimum force the Rockets to operate on a quick deadline.
The Rockets are in pursuit of Bosh on a maximum contract, but have hurdles to jump to get there. First, Houston will need to trade point guard Jeremy Lin to clear the necessary cap space to offer Bosh a four-year deal worth $88 million. They would then need to get Bosh to agree to sign, a move which likely hinges on LeBron James not returning to Miami. Now, they'll need to do that in a very tight window if they are also going to retain Parsons. The Mavericks can officially sign Parsons to the offer sheet at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday. Houston would then have three days to match the offer or let Parsons go to Dallas without compensation. That gives the Rockets roughly 72 hours to trade Lin and ink Bosh to a max deal. That could be enough time, but it will depend on outside factors -- including when James agrees to a deal -- more than it will be in the Rockets control.
The offer sheet with Dallas won't have an immediate impact as according to Mark Deeks of Shamsports.com, Parson's cap hold with Houston will remain his qualifying offer until the Rockets officially matched the deal. The 25-year-old former second-round pick developed into a key contributor for the Rockets. He averaged 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game last season and played a role in recruiting Dwight Howard to Houston last offseason. The Rockets attempted to negotiate a deal with Parsons on Wednesday, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, but were unable to come to an agreement.
For the Mavericks, the move is a very shrewd one. If Houston doesn't match the offer, Dallas adds a young, talented piece to its roster on a fairly manageable three-year deal. Parsons would play the early prime of his career in Dallas before hitting the free agent market again at 28. Even if the per year salary is close to the maximum, it's not a gross overpayment by Dallas considering the four-year $63 million offer sheet Gordon Hayward signed with Charlotte. If Houston does match, Dallas won't add Parsons, but will have made it harder for their Southwest Division rival. The Rockets will have very little margin for error in completing a max deal for a free agent and retaining Parsons. They will also need some help from another team willing to trade for Lin. The Mavericks may end up preventing Houston from adding Bosh or another max free agent this offseason, or forced them to do so at the sacrifice of Parsons. At the very minimum, the Mavericks put the Rockets on the clock.