The Memphis Grizzlies may have just landed the biggest free agent signing for a new player in franchise history. ESPN and Yahoo report that the Grizzlies have agreed to terms with forward Chandler Parsons on a four-year maximum contract at $98.5 million.
The Grizzlies have never brought in a new free agent of this caliber, so even with the concerns over Parsons' knee injury history, which has ended his season the past two years and required "minor microfracture surgery," it's a huge get for them. It also has massive impacts on their team going forward.
Mike Conley, who agreed to a $153 million max offer with Memphis Friday, had said publicly he wanted the Grizzlies to add a free agent upgrade this summer. Even with Parsons' injury history, this constitutes one.
Parsons averaged 13.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.8 assists last season in just under 30 minutes per game for Dallas, shooting 49 percent. His per-100-possessions averages of 23.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 4.8 assists are more indicative of his skillset and capability, when healthy. The Grizzlies are likely to still have roughly $8 million in cap space prior to using bird rights to re-sign Conley.
Here are seven things to know about Parsons joining the Memphis Grizzlies.
1. This is a major upgrade. The Grizzlies are able to move on from Matt Barnes in this situation, and if they don't, they bring him off the bench For years, the Grizzlies have needed another playmaker and creator on the wing who could also hit shots and Parsons does that perfectly. Parsons spaces the floor, can run pick and roll, rebound, and generally do all the versatile things that the Grizzlies have desperately needed. From a basketball fit perspective, it's perfect, with Conley not a dominant ball-handler and Parsons a willing passer and cutter with good 3-point abilities.
2. The injury concern is real. If Parsons' knees are never right again, which is a definite possibility given his injury history, this is going to be an absolute albatross. It's four years, guaranteed, and Parsons would be 31 at the end of it. Microfracture surgery is a huge deal and Parsons had that injury, then another injury at the end of last season. There are huge, flaming, glaring red sirens when it comes to his injury history. So there's great chance that this winds up being the big "What if" move in Grizzlies history.
3. It's worth it if only for helping to re-sign Conley. Conley was reportedly part of the pitch to keep Parsons and it's hard to imagine Parsons signing with Memphis if the guard was not coming back. Conley had said in exit interviews that the Grizzlies needed something to get them back into contention, and this move does just that. A Big 3 of Conley-Parsons-Gasol has glaring injury concerns all over the place, but it also has a terrific combination of skill and ability.
4. Signing a marquee free agent is a big deal. Memphis has never been a big-name destination, so to land one of the best wings on the market and a heavily recruited guy who had the same offer reportedly from the Portland Trail Blazers is a huge get. It boosts the Grizzlies at a time when they looked like they were very much on the decline. It puts them back into position to contend for a top-four seed in the Western Conference (again, if Parsons is healthy) and changes the perception that they cannot or will not spend to add real talent.
5. Defensively, he'll have to be covered by the scheme and teammates. Parsons is not a lockdown defender, especially after the surgeries. The good news is that the Grizzlies are chock full of really great defenders all over the place, and David Fizdale's system should be able to find a way to put him in good position. He doesn't have to guard the best perimeter defender, which takes a big responsibility off his plate, and his mobility will help them in pressuring the ball.
6. This caps a great summer for Memphis. They had a great draft with Wade Baldwin IV and Deyonta Davis, hired Fizdale from Miami, re-signed franchise icon Mike Conley, and landed a huge free agent upgrade.
7. The Grizzlies have an incredible amount of boyish charm. With Conley back, and you have Justin Timberlake along with Chandler Parsons, that's an overload of handsome. Putting the "shine" in "Grit-Grind 'Til Ya Shine."