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Concern grows after Parsons suffers setback

The Mavs aren't sure how much they can get out of Chandler Parsons once the playoffs begin. Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

SALT LAKE CITY -- Chandler Parsons doesn't expect to be 100 percent when the playoffs begin. He just hopes he's healthy enough to help the Dallas Mavericks.

That's not a certainty -- not after Parsons, who hasn't played since April, 2 due to soreness in his right knee, suffered a setback during an intense pregame workout Sunday.

The plan was for Parsons to play the last two regular-season games, which would give him plenty of time to chip the rust off and get ready for the playoffs. That changed when his knee "kind of gave out in a weird way" during his workout at Staples Center.

At this point, Parsons hopes he can play in Wednesday's regular-season finale against Portland, but that's no guarantee. In fact, he can't be sure he'll be ready to go for Game 1 in San Antonio or Memphis or Houston or Los Angeles.

If the playoffs started now, Parsons said he couldn't play.

This isn't about precaution. Parsons' knee is a problem for the Mavs, who desperately need their $46 million small forward in peak form for the playoffs.

"Am I concerned? Yeah, I'm concerned," coach Rick Carlisle said. "We'll see where we are. We're not going to take any risks with it. He desperately wants to play, and he's played hurt a lot this year. When he came back from his foot thing, he was out there a lot earlier than a lot of guys would have been. We've just got to make sure we're smart about the whole thing."

It's not a matter of pain tolerance for Parsons, whose knee was throbbing when he logged 13 points and an assist in crunch time to close out the Oklahoma City Thunder on April 1, a couple days after he originally suffered the injury when he took a hard fall during his 27-point, 10-rebound performance against the Indiana Pacers.

Parsons simply has no lift and no explosiveness, even though the swelling in the knee is down. The 6-foot-9 small forward could barely dunk off his right foot Sunday, even before he suffered the setback.

"Right now, I think if I played, not only do I think I'd further the injury, I know I'm not as good as I could be, and I'd probably hurt more than I'd help," Parsons said while pedaling on an exercise bike before he watched Rajon Rondo and the Mavs reserves play the Utah Jazz.

"I could play, but it would almost be selfish to rush back and play and not be able to help my team. I'm not going to be immature and ignorant just to play. I'm dying to play. I really want to play, but at the same time, I'm not going to be selfish and rush back and not be a contributor and be able to help our team."

What percentage of Parsons is better than Richard Jefferson? The Mavs hope that's not a question they need to answer when the playoffs begin.

Parsons doesn't know exactly what's wrong with his knee. The MRI from April 3, the day after soreness and swelling forced him to leave the Mavs' loss to the Houston Rockets in the third quarter, came back clean. The swelling has been gone for several days. But the soreness persists.

"I'm doing whatever I can to get there, and it's just not making the progress that I thought it would," said Parsons, who has another doctor's visit scheduled for Tuesday in Dallas. "It's nothing structural, no tears in the tendons or anything, so I know it's nothing like that. But it's just kind of scary not knowing what it is and why it hurts so much and why it's not better."

A little good news: Parsons said he "felt pretty good" after his pregame shooting session Monday. However, that session didn't include any quick movements that would test the explosiveness he had lacked the previous night.

Another encouraging nugget: Parsons came back strong from his previous injury, a sprained left ankle and bone bruise that caused him to miss seven games in late February and early March. He averaged 17.6 points on 52.4 percent shooting, 5.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 11 full games before he limped off the floor again.

That time around, Parsons chipped the rust off with an 11-point performance against the Lakers in his return, and then he got on a roll. Now he hopes to get a tuneup Wednesday night before heating up in the playoffs.

"My goal is to be back and play Wednesday and be ready to go for Game 1," Parsons said. "If not Wednesday, be ready to go for Game 1. It's going to take a lot for me not to play in the playoffs."

It's going to take a lot from Parsons for the Mavs to make any noise in the playoffs. He needs his knee to cooperate.