Chandler Parsons, Grizzlies agree on indefinite separation

By Updated: January 07, 2019 8:17 AM CT | Published: January 06, 2019 11:23 PM CT

Chandler Parsons' rocky, disappointing marriage with the Memphis Grizzlies is officially on the rocks, with Parsons and the team agreeing on Sunday to an indefinite separation. 

After traveling with the Grizzlies to San Antonio for Saturday night's game, Parsons is no longer with the Grizzlies as they prepare to face the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night. 

"We will continue to monitor Chandler's progress," Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace said in a statement released Sunday afternoon regarding the team's decisions where he outlined the discussions and options the team presented to the forward and his representatives.

The news of Parsons' departure was first reported by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim McMahon on Sunday afternoon  and subsequently confirmed by multiple sources to The Daily Memphian.

ESPN reported that Parsons and his agent would try to “structure a resolution on Parsons’ future with franchise.” ESPN also reported that Parsons had taunted Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace during a recent practice, yelling “Let me play!”

Parsons signed a four-year, $94 million contract with the Grizzlies in the summer of 2016 after playing with the Dallas Mavericks and before Dallas, the Houston Rockets.

The final year of the contract, for the 2019-20 season, is more than $25 million, fully guaranteed.

In the release, Wallace said they met with Parsons and his representatives "numerous times during the rehab process, laying out a number of options" in hopes of getting Parsons healthy and back on the floor.

"In the last of these conversations, we presented Chandler clear options for him and his representatives to choose, which included a short three-home-game stint for the Memphis Hustle or rehab either in Memphis or Los Angeles with the training team of his choice.

"Chandler subsequently chose to continue to rehab in Los Angeles."

A team source told The Daily Memphian last week that the Grizzlies had asked Parsons to play two G League games with the Memphis Hustle in California after Christmas. Parsons had traveled with the team for its four-game West Coast road trip before the holiday, and was asked to stay behind for Hustle games on Dec. 27 in El Segundo and Dec. 29 in Stockton. Parsons declined.

The request to play rehab games for the Hustle was reiterated this weekend, according to two team sources, with management asking Parsons to play in home games in Southaven on Monday, Friday, and Saturday. Without assurances of Grizzlies playing time after the assignment, Parsons again declined. NBA players have the option of declining G League assignments after three seasons in the league.

Parsons had cited two weeks of five-on-five practices with the team in previous reports, but a Grizzlies source disputed that characterization, saying that most practices Parsons had participated in involved assistant coaches. Team management ultimately didn’t feel like Parsons had proved his health and durability enough to warrant his return, especially in the context of the return of Dillon Brooks and addition of trade acquisition Justin Holiday already putting the rotation in flux.

Parsons’ signing in 2016 was meant to establish a new core for the team, with the versatile, skilled forward joining Mike Conley and Marc Gasol as the team began to transition away from its former “Core Four” of Conley, Gasol, Zach Randolph, and Tony Allen. 

But Parsons’ knee problems were a pre-existing condition on his Memphis arrival, and proved worse than anticipated. The Grizzlies never saw the Parsons they believed they were signing, only a player limited in both effectiveness and workload.  

Parsons played only 34 games in his initial season with Memphis, averaging a 8.2 points a game and shooting only 26.9 percent from three-point range.

Last season, Parsons averaged 7.9 points while playing 36 games, though he shot 42.1 percent from beyond the arc.

This season, despite traveling to Germany for blood-spinning treatments in his knees and a preseason declaration that he was ready to go, Parsons played in only the first three games of the season before taking himself out of the third game against Utah with knee soreness.

A week ago, Parsons and his agent complained about the team not playing him despite being medically cleared by Dec. 21. While Parsons and his agent said he was ready to play, the Grizzlies kept him inactive under the reason of “return from injury management.” 

It’s unclear whether Parsons’ agent is seeking a buyout this season, but one is unlikely to come. And with Parsons’ trade value presumably very low, a resolution that would remove Parsons from the Grizzlies’ roster this season seems highly unlikely. The NBA trade deadline this season is Feb. 7. The Grizzlies could be willing to move Parsons in exchange for longer salaries of players they deem helpful, but don't feel pressured to move him this season.

Assuming the Grizzlies carry Parsons’ contract on their roster into the summer, they would be left with four options:

1. They could seek to trade Parsons’ expiring contract.

2. They could buy out the final $25 million on Parsons’ contract ahead of the 2019-2020 season, in return for which the team would likely seek a salary reduction. Whatever portion is bought out would remain a part of the team’s payroll for salary cap purposes in the coming season.

3. They could use the NBA’s “stretch provision,” a form of buyout that would divide the salary cap impact of Parsons’ remaining contract evenly over the following three seasons.

4. Or, the current limbo could continue. The Grizzlies could carry Parsons, and his contract, into next season, where the large expiring contract could gain value ahead of the 2020 trade deadline.

Another option, of course, is that Parsons rejoins the Grizzlies as an active player. While no one from the Grizzlies has closed the door on that possibility, the odds of seeing Parsons in a Grizzlies uniform again seem to be growing more remote.

Parsons’ potential absence with the team has similarities to Joakim Noah's situation with the New York Knicks last season, where he was kept away from the team after an argument with then-coach Jeff Hornacek. Noah was waived by the Knicks before the start of this season and became a free agent before signing with the Grizzlies on Dec. 4.



Chandler Parsons Memphis Grizzlies

Comment On This Story

Section Emails

Sign up to get the latest articles from the Sports;Memphis Grizzlies section.