<
>

Q&A: Chandler Parsons looks to healthier future with the Mavs

Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports

DALLAS -- Chandler Parsons packed the two most frustrating months of his career and the two best basketball months of his life into a season that ended prematurely.

Next up: Rehabbing from surgery on the meniscus in his right knee, followed by free agency, when the 27-year-old forward will have to figure out whether he's returning to the Dallas Mavericks, for whom he'd like to resume his role as the lead recruiter. Parsons discussed all that and more in an expansive interview with ESPN.com.

ESPN.com: You go to get an MRI thinking you're dealing with some soreness in your lower hamstring. The doctor comes back and tells you you've got a partially torn meniscus and are going to need surgery. Because of the time of the year, it ends your season. What was your reaction?

Parsons: That was devastating. It was something that I really wasn't expecting. In that Golden State game, our trainer Casey Smith visibly saw me limping, but it was so low in my hamstring that I was kind of hoping that I just tweaked it or pulled it a little bit. At the same time, in the back of my head, I obviously realized that it was the same leg and same knee that I had the microfracture on, so that was a little worrisome.

As I sat out a few days, the flexibility in my leg wasn't bending very much. When I was running and jogging, I wasn't really able to stride out, so as a precaution, we went and got an MRI. It was just something I didn't see coming. Obviously, I didn't know that day as I was walking into the doctor -- them telling me I was having season-ending surgery. Just horrible timing.

I couldn't help but just break down. [Knee surgery] was something I just went through. It was such a grind and so grueling, exhausting rehab with the previous surgery, and now I'm finally back, feeling close to 100 percent, playing extremely confident and playing well. Now, in the most important time of the season when our team needs me the most going into this playoff push, Doc tells me that basically I'm done for the season and we've got to fix it.

It's definitely way more minor than last season. It's going to seem like a piece of cake with the rehab from what I've already been through.

From that standpoint, I'm confident I'll be OK. Obviously, the length of the recovery time is nowhere near as long as it was last time, with this one being six to eight weeks. There's some positive things that came out of it. I think this was an overall good thing to do now, to clean up. It's bad timing, because I'm not playing now in the most important time of the season, but for the long-term future, I think this was the best idea to do. Obviously, Mark [Cuban] and Rick [Carlisle] and our doctors agreed.

ESPN.com: As you mentioned, it is the same knee you had the hybrid microfracture surgery on last year. Is this at all related to that, or is it just an unfortunate coincidence?

Parsons: It's a coincidence. I think where I did have that microfracture surgery, it's always going to be there. It's pretty much a divot in the cartilage that I had removed there with different strategies and different techniques that we used to fix that. It's always going to be there. A lot of guys in the NBA do have that, [but] it just doesn't seem to bother them. They were either born with that or the grind just kind of wears and tears on your body. It could be a variation of a lot of things.

It could have been overcompensating on different parts of my legs, overuse, could have been a lot, but this is something that nobody could have really been able to predict. They don't think it's something that will continue to happen, which is good for my future and my career. It's not something that's going to keep haunting me, hopefully.


Brilliant stretch

ESPN.com: It was really a wild ride of a season for you. Coming off that surgery, you had a really rough rehab and probably the most frustrating two months of your career starting out. Then, once you got healthy, you were playing the best basketball of your life until your season ended prematurely. Now that you've had a little bit of time to put this in perspective, in the grand scheme of things, how do you look at this season?

Parsons: It was a roller coaster. There was a bunch of low times for me and a lot of new things I've never experienced before with the whole rehab process, the minute restrictions, trying to come off the bench, trying to find solutions to make our team the best possible team and selfishly trying to get myself going to get myself back to how I was playing. It was tough.

"Free agency is a fun time, and obviously I have the opportunity here to opt out. That's not necessarily to leave Dallas. That's maybe to sign a longer-term deal here." Chandler Parsons, on his future in Dallas

It really makes you focus on how important health is. It's something that I never really had to worry about or go through until this last season's surgery and now this year. When I look back, I can't help but think if I was healthy, I would have done this, or we would have won this game, or we would have been a 3-seed. It's hard to say, but I just know that I'm doing everything in my power to get back to being 100 percent healthy. This is just another minor bump in the road.

ESPN.com: When you were healthy this year, you morphed into one of the better shooters in the league and added that element to your game. Statistically, you went through the best stretch of your career over two-plus months. Is that the player people should expect Chandler Parsons to be moving forward?

Parsons: Yeah, and I think that's the player I'm going to be right off the jump next season. Once I got my head back and my legs back and being in game shape, I felt like I was one of the better players in the league. It wasn't just a game here, a week here, a week there. It was for a solid two-month period of consistency, which is what I hadn't shown a lot of in my career.

I felt like I was getting to play the best I ever played in my career before this meniscus tear. That's the player I envisioned myself being when I signed with Dallas. That's the player I envision myself being next season.

I'll enjoy the struggle and the pain of the rehab process, going through this again, because I had a little bit of success this year after last year's surgery. I know what to expect now. I know what to feel in my leg. I know when to pull back, when to push harder, so I think this time around I'll have a better understanding of it. I look forward to being back on the court as soon as possible and getting ready to start next season.


Opt-out plan

ESPN.com: Speaking of next season, the world's worst-kept secret is that you're opting out of your contract this summer. Will you be back in Dallas?

Parsons: That's something that we've got to figure out. Obviously, I've been extremely happy here, and I think I've made it very vocal that I love Dallas. I love the organization. Everything I did last summer with the free agency and the recruiting efforts is something I really enjoy doing.

It's something that I feel like I'm pretty good at doing. I have a great relationship with Coach Carlisle and Dirk [Nowitzki] and my teammates here. Cuban's obviously my guy, and I wouldn't want to play for anybody else. I feel like he's the best owner in the NBA.

But right now, it's tough to look ahead. I have so much on my plate right now with the rehab and the surgery. I still feel like I'm a big part of this team going forward while they're in the middle of this run. I'm still going to practice every day. Didn't travel on this last road trip, but I'm planning on traveling to L.A. and Utah and finishing this season with them. Playing Houston here, I'll give them any input and any insight I have going up against those guys.

Free agency is a fun time, and obviously I have the opportunity here to opt out. That's not necessarily to leave Dallas. That's maybe to sign a longer-term deal here. There's a lot of options, and that's something me and my agent Dan [Fegan] will talk about when it's more appropriate and that time comes.

ESPN.com: Are you a max player in this market?

Parsons: We'll see what the value is. Obviously, the market is going very high up, and a lot of guys are getting paid a lot of money. You see where your value is, you see what the market is for free agents this summer around your caliber and your position. Last [contract], it was max, so we'll see what it is this summer.

ESPN.com: That doesn't sound all that confident.

Parsons [laughs]: Well, I feel like I've got the best agent in the business to handle those types of questions.

Reaction to Rockets' fizzle

ESPN.com: The Rockets are in town tonight. You've got relationships with the guys you played with there, James Harden and Dwight Howard in particular. For a team that went to the West finals last year, basically bring their whole core back, are you surprised with the way things have gone in Houston this summer and that the Harden-Howard dynamic does not seem to have clicked?

Parsons: Yeah, I am surprised. The success that they had last year, I was actually surprised with that as well. Josh Smith really helped them last year. That 4-5 pick-and-roll was really, really tough to guard, so I think getting rid of him hurt them a little bit with the mojo that they had and that small-ball lineup. Him being able to facilitate at the 4 was huge for them.

Then, when you've got two stars like Dwight and James, it's tough. They both want the ball. They both want to score. They both want to make big plays down the stretch. So you have to have a balance there. You have to have a great understanding. It just seems like they're not on the right page, on the same page, every now and then.

Going through a coaching change during the season can be difficult. They always like to make moves in the middle of the season, so it's tough to get in a rhythm. I just think that's a problem they're experiencing. When you look at their roster, they have so much talent that it's crazy to think that team could not make the playoffs, but it just shows you how good the other teams are and how strong the West is.

In a way, I almost feel bad for J.B. Bickerstaff, because that's a tough situation for him to come into. I think he's got a bright future ahead of him. He's one of my favorite people I've ever met in my life, so from that standpoint, I want them to do great. I want them to do really good obviously outside of playing Dallas. For him, I feel like I want them to do good. I still have a good relationship with Dwight and Pat [Beverley] and T.J. [Terrence Jones] and James. I'm still rooting for those guys in the back of my head, but at the same time, that's a division rival, so I don't hate to see them lose, too.

ESPN.com: Dwight is also expected to hit the market this summer after opting out of his contract. Do you anticipate that there will be discussions between you two about hooking back up, whether that's in Dallas or somewhere else?

Parsons: Yeah. We have ongoing talks and text messages still to this day. He's one of my good friends. It's cool that we could have the opportunity to go into free agency this summer together.

I've expressed how I think he can be one of the dominant players in this league. I think he still has a lot left in the tank. He gets criticized a lot for whatever reason, but I still think he can be one of the best big men in the league and a game-changer. He's not that old [Howard is 30]. He still has a lot left in the tank.

It'll be interesting to see where his head is going into free agency. Obviously, right now is not the time to be talking about that with five games left and both of our teams in position to try to make a run here, make the playoffs and then hopefully advance. When the time comes this summer, we'll definitely be spending some time together and talking.


After the failed Jordan courtship

ESPN.com: Speaking of big men that you spent a lot of time with in the summer, what's the relationship between you and DeAndre Jordan at this point after the fallout from last offseason, when you had him and then you didn't?

Parsons: Pretty nonexistent, honestly. ... Me and DJ obviously got super close during that time. It's kind of in the past now for both of us. He's made his decision and has had a decent year in L.A., so I'm happy for him. They're a team that's a contender this year. I've said many times I'm over it. He didn't do anything illegal.

I still think he would have been a much better player individually here in Dallas. You never know what's going to happen in the upcoming years. He's a good dude at heart.

ESPN.com: Coming back from that, you talked about how you wanted to be back recruiting for the Mavericks this summer. How does that work with your situation uncertain?

Parsons: It's tricky, because if I'm going out and I'm recruiting a free agent right in the beginning of free agency, and they obviously know that I've opted out of my contract and I'm still not signed with the Mavs, it's difficult for them to get an understanding of what the foundation of the Mavs is going to be going forward when the main guy recruiting them still isn't signed.

That's something that Fegan and Mark and Donnie [Nelson] and everybody, they have to talk early on to maybe get something done. Obviously, Dan will be talking to every team in the league with there being so much cap space everywhere, but that's a tricky thing. I can't really recruit anybody to Dallas until I know that I'm coming back to Dallas.