With the report from Yahoo Sports that the Rockets plan to decline the option on Chandler Parsons' contract for the upcoming season, there would still be many unanswered questions about the Rockets' long-term intentions with Parsons.
The one thing that would remain a near certainty is that Parsons would be looking at a huge bump in pay, starting immediately for the upcoming season. Parsons signed his four-year rookie contract with the Rockets that kept him at a salary of just under $1 million per season.The fourth-year option presents Houston with several options.
As is normally the case with Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, he has an eye on flexibility and keeping the Rockets' pursuit of a third major star open as the draft and free agency approach. With Dwight Howard and James Harden set to command roughly $36 million next season and $38 million in 2015-16, the Rockets would have limited amount of space under the cap even without knowing the exact figures that the salary cap will be set at for the upcoming seasons. Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik are both entering the final year of their deals which pay them roughly $15 million, but each player counts just about $8.4 million.
Moving forward with declining the option on Parsons would also require the Rocket to make a qualifying offer to Parsons to make him a restricted free agent. That would result in a cap hold of roughly $2.7 million for Parsons, which would likely be temporary until the sides reached an agreement on a long-term deal or the Rockets matched an offer sheet Parsons could sign with another team as an unrestricted free agent.
The Rockets could sign another high-dollar free agent this offseason, but still match a deal on Parsons as a restricted free agent. If the Rockets exercised the option on Parsons contract, rather than decline it, it would lock him in to another season at just under a million dollars, but it would make him an unrestricted free agent following the 2015-16 season. In that scenario, the Rockets would run the risk of losing Parsons for nothing as teams could enter into a bidding war for his services.
Declining the option on Parsons contract also continues to keep Parsons as a potentially enticing piece to a potential sign-and-trade deal. A team looking to acquire Parsons could immediately lock Parsons up to a long-term deal, although Parsons would have to be willing to sign that deal, which would obviously take him out of Houston.
It also allows the Rockets to have a long-term deal with Parsons one year sooner. The perceived advantage there is by declining the option on a player who has made less than a miliion dollars a season for three seasons is that the Rockets would open the door for a massive raise for Parsons immediately. Again, exercising the option locks Parsons into a fourth straight season of earning less than a million dollars. Declining it gets Parsons to his likely massive payday one year sooner and possibly could be seen as helpful to getting a reasonable long-term deal complete.
Houston has until the end of the June to officially exercise or decline the option.
With the intentions to pursue a top free agent, the team would need to move the contracts of both Lin and Asik. Asik was at the center of major trade discussions during the season, but Morey was unable to find a deal to the team's liking during the season. Asik enjoyed a very strong postseason, helping Houston slow down LaMarcus Aldridge over the final four games of the Rockets first round series with the Blazers.