As you may all be aware, the Los Angeles Lakers will be entering the 2014 offseason with cap space suffice to offer a max contract to any free agent. Seeing as how the Rockets have a very slim chance of landing the prize free agents who are actually worth max contracts, we must look a bit lower towards a glorified role player. Luol Deng is expected to headline this category, but other possibilities include Trevor Ariza, Lance Stephenson and Avery Bradley.
Each of the previously mentioned players are certainly capable of contributing quality minutes to the Lakers in the future, but perhaps the most capable player is surprisingly about the hit the open market. Chandler Parsons of the Houston Rockets will reportedly have his fourth-year team optioned declined, making him a restricted free agent. Unlike most impactful rookies, Parsons’ deal does not contain the option to give a qualifying offer after his fourth and final year. In everyday English, this means if Houston picked up the option for next season, Parsons would enter the summer of 2015 as an unrestricted free agent. This is similar to Stephenson’s deal with the Indiana Pacers.
Furthermore, the Rockets will not be declining his option because they are unhappy with his performances, but because it offers a better opportunity to lock Parsons up long-term. Enter Los Angeles, which possess the ability to poison pill Parsons with the intention of forcing Houston to give up on the swingman. The Rockets made similar contract offers to Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik, who were highly regarded players with their former teams. Houston may ultimately decide to allow Parsons to walk as they have been in the market for a third superstar since acquiring Dwight Howard last summer.
As for potential fit in Los Angeles, Parsons could not be any more perfect. He came into the league three years ago as an extremely skilled defender, who has developed his game enough to consistently be a third scoring option on a contending team. The feat that will really catch the attention of Lakers’ management is defense. Last season Los Angeles was next to last in just about every defensive category, which was not only embarrassing but uncharacteristic of the storied franchise. Youth and athleticism will both be priorities for Mitch Kupchak, so offering Parsons a contract is inevitable. Fortunately a coaching change and some young talent may be sufficient to turn this team around.