MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Patience remains a requirement as Memphis Grizzlies fans wait for the franchise's $94 million gamble to pay off. There have at least been real signs of progress recently, reasons to believe that Chandler Parsons' maximum contract isn't a mistake.
For the second straight game, Parsons was productive while hitting his minutes restriction by halftime. That allowed him to find a rhythm while he continues the slow, tedious process of coming back from a second surgery on his right knee, which was delayed further by him missing a month because of a bone bruise in his left knee.
It's usually not newsworthy for a player with such large paychecks to get a few buckets, but there's nothing typical about Parsons' situation. The Grizzlies have had a long-term view from the time they recruited the versatile forward on the first day of free agency, planning for him to peak in time for this season's playoffs and provide full-season value the next few years.
It often hasn't been pretty as the part-time model has played his way into game shape, so forgive the fans at FedEx Forum for getting fired up when Parsons got into a little groove during Sunday's 88-79 win over the Utah Jazz, scoring nine points on 3-of-4 shooting in 16 minutes.
"About time!" someone seated behind press row muttered as fans rose to their feet following an and-1 jumper by Parsons.
Hey, tell Parsons about it. He's constantly pushing for his minutes limit to be pushed up, especially after scoring 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting in four quarters of work over the past two games, as much as he understands why the franchise insists on proceeding with such caution.
"I feel like I'm getting close," Parsons told ESPN. "Obviously, there's going to be ups and downs throughout this process, but the last two games are huge games for me to build on. I didn't get too down when I wasn't making shots, because I expected that. It's a frustrating process and I went through that last year, but I like where I'm at right now."
Meanwhile, Memphis' low-profile, high-reward summer addition watches and waits his turn as Parsons works. With Parsons getting his full dose of minutes in the first half, there was no room in the rotation for sharpshooter Troy Daniels until the third quarter.
What role will Daniels have as Parsons' playing time steadily gets pushed toward the norm for a player with his paycheck? It's a heck of a problem for Grizzlies coach David Fizdale to have.
"He's instant offense," Fizdale said of Daniels. "It's not like he needs a ton of minutes to be effective, but I'm going to be creative to make sure he gets at least a few looks in every game."
Daniels, who signed a three-year, $10 million deal with the Grizzlies after being recruited by Parsons, among others, has quietly been one of the better bargains from last summer's free-agency crop. He has been a big reason why the Grizzlies were able to keep their heads above water while dealing with extended absences for $153 million point guard Mike Conley, sixth man Zach Randolph, key reserve Vince Carter and Parsons.
Since Dec. 1, Daniels has averaged 12.6 points in 23 minutes per game, shooting 44.3 percent from 3-point range. He has proven that he's more than a spot-up shooter, which a lot of NBA people thought was his only skill. The proof: Daniels has the Grizzlies' best plus-minus during that span, as Memphis has outscored opponents by 101 points with him on the floor while going 13-8.
But Daniels, whose professionalism drew high praise from Fizdale, understands that giving Parsons a chance to regain his form is the priority.
"Whatever I need to do to help this team win, I'll do it no matter what," Daniels said. "I'm just excited that we're winning while we're going it. I would love to be out there obviously, but it doesn't bother me at all."
The plan with Parsons at this point: Have him play six-minute stints in each of the first three quarters unless he gets into a good groove in the first half, in which case his stints will be extended. That's what has happened in each of the past two games.
Parsons played 16 minutes Sunday and was disappointed that the Grizzlies decided not to let him play a couple of more after cooling off at halftime. He spent most of the third quarter doing conditioning in the weight room while cussing to no one in particular.
"I felt really, really good," Parsons said. "To be able to stretch out my conditioning, to be able to play those 8-10 minute stretches I think is really beneficial to me in the long run. I think that will kind of speed up the process of getting in a rhythm, regaining confidence, having the ball in my hands, making shots, making plays. To be able to shake off the rust, doing these long stints will help me a lot more than the three quick stints."
Parsons' minute limits will be bumped up incrementally until it reaches the mid-30s. Fizdale will have to figure out how to keep Daniels involved as Parsons' role increases.
Parsons is building toward being the player Memphis banked on getting. Daniels has given the Grizzlies great value. It will take a balancing act to get bang for the buck from both, but it's a challenge that Fizdale would welcome after patiently waiting.