Ariza to Houston pave Parsons' way to Dallas?

The Houston Rockets have a sound replacement plan if they decide not to match the Mavericks’ big bid for Chandler Parsons.

That doesn’t necessarily pave Parsons’ road to Dallas, however. It just guarantees that perhaps the Mavs' preferred fallback target is gone with the Rockets signing Trevor Ariza to a four-year, $32 million deal.

Sources close to the situation tell ESPN’s Marc Stein that the Rockets are still weighing whether to exercise their right to match Parsons’ three-year, $46 million offer sheet from the Mavs. The Dallas front office definitely does not expect its Interstate 45 rivals to do it the favor of tipping their hand until the 10:59 p.m. Sunday deadline.

If the Rockets let Parsons leave, they can plug Ariza into their starting lineup and pocket as much as $7 million in cap space for next season, depending on how Houston fills out its thin bench. A sum that large could be the difference in being bidders in the potential Kevin Love sweepstakes, if the All-Star power forward doesn’t get traded to a destination he likes first.

Houston’s breathless pursuit of Chris Bosh illustrated how much general manager Daryl Morey values a stretch 4, a perfect complement to max-salary stars Dwight Howard and James Harden. Love, who rebounds like Moses Malone and shoots like Dirk Nowitzki, is the best stretch 4 in the business at the moment.

All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo is another 2015 free agent who could be worth Houston's saving up to sign him to a max deal next summer.

If the Rockets hang on to Parsons, he could theoretically form a small-ball forward tandem with Ariza, although neither player is built to bang with physical power forwards. Houston also has a pair of power forwards on rookie deals -- returning starter Terrence Jones and rotation player Donatas Motiejunas -- on the roster.

It’s up to the Rockets to decide whether clogging their cap with Parsons is worth it. All the Mavs can do is wait until the last minute of Sunday night to find out whether they must pluck through market’s the leftovers at small forward.