(SportsNetwork.com) - LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony were the the two biggest free agent prizes up for grabs this offseason, but two other small forwards who haven't even come close to sniffing All-Star status came away with very big paydays.
Restricted free agent Chandler Parsons got a 3-year, $46 million deal with the Dallas Mavericks, as his former team the Houston Rockets decided not to match the offer sheet for the three-year veteran after failing to land Miami Heat free agent Chris Bosh.
Following the decision not to retain Parsons, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said the Rockets are in a better position to build a championship roster having let Parsons walk.
Meanwhile, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is thrilled to have the 25-year old Parsons aboard, and he seems to have a higher opinion of Parsons than Morey.
"Chandler's skilled in a lot of different ways," Cuban said. "He"s versatile, he can play four positions, he's a great passer."
Not only can he play them, but the plan is that he will. "He'll bring the ball up. He's the old Nellie point forward personified."
Cuban also sees some upside on the other end of the floor.
"He's a willing defender," Cuban said. "One of the reasons we went after him, one of the things I do is I talk to all of the scorers that I know, and I ask them, 'who defended you the best, just the top three?' And Chandler was on a couple different lists."
He also thinks playing under Rick Carlisle will improve Parson's defense. "I think coach will do a lot better job, if you just look at his stances or stuff like that. Coach will get on him and we do a lot of drills for the little stuff like that."
With his contract averaging out to over $15 million per year, the Mavericks are expecting a huge leap from Parsons, and that view of him played a pretty big role in his signing the offer sheet with Dallas.
"I view myself as an up-and-coming star," said Parsons. "They were the ones that made the offer and look at me like a franchise-max player. I want a bigger role. Mark Cuban and coach (Rick) Carlisle made that clear to me. That's how they view me. I couldn't be more excited."
So, will the Mavericks get their money's worth out of this investment? Well, TotalPlayerValue.com, a basketball analytics website that rates players by their monetary value had Parsons valued at $8.5 million last season, and projects him to be valued at no better than $10 million going forward.
While Parsons was the third best player on a team that won 54 games last season, Hayward was only the second-best player (to Derrick Favors) on a Utah Jazz team that won just 25 games and was last in the Western Conference. That didn't prevent the Charlotte Hornets from signing Hayward to a mind- boggling 4-year, $63 million offer sheet, and then having Utah match it. TotalPlayerValue.com had Hayward at $5.5 million last season, with his highest rated season coming in 2012-13 at $6.5 million.
Gordon Monson of The Salt Lake Tribune summed up the signing really well, writing: "They paid for a Maserati and got a Buick. A really nice Buick, but a Buick, nonetheless."
Expanding on that thought he added:
"Let's say this all plain and simple: In terms of where he is as a player, there's no way Gordon Hayward is worth $63 million. He's not a max-money guy. The Jazz know this. A lucky Hayward knows it, too. They and he have experienced it, firsthand. If they'd thought he was worth that kind of cash, they would have offered it before last season, before Hayward became a restricted free agent this month.
"Everyone associated with the club has seen Hayward turn less and less efficient as a shooter in each of his four seasons here. The greater the responsibility placed on him, the greater the inefficiency. The more he shot, the more he missed. The stats don't lie: 48 percent to 45 percent to 43 percent to 41 percent. Hayward hit just 30 percent of his 3-pointers last season, also a career low. His turnovers have headed the other direction. He averaged nearly three a game in 2013-14."
Both Hayward and Parsons' new deals will pay them an average salary of over $15 million per year.
If you think they'll play up to the level of their new salaries, first take a look at what some of the other young stars in the league will be earning next season:
Russell Westbrook $15.7 million
Kevin Love $15.7 million
James Harden $14.7 million
John Wall $14.7 million
I can understand to some extent the Mavericks overpaying to add a quality young player to a talented veteran base, but the Jazz should have diligently explored other options rather than pay a ridiculous sum to a guy who isn't even close to being a top 50 player in the league.
The Hornets should be eternally grateful to the Jazz for matching the offer sheet to Hayward. That decision enabled Charlotte to sign free agent Lance Stephenson to a reported three-year, $27 million deal. So the Hornets end up getting a better player for a much less expensive price. Call this scenario better to be lucky than good.
The signing of free agent Pau Gasol was a nice addition for the Chicago Bulls, but it didn't address their primary need for another player besides Derrick Rose who can create his own shot off the dribble. Also, with Gasol being a center/power forward, it means it'll be very difficult for the Bulls to have their four best players on the floor simultaneously, since it's unlikely that Gasol, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson will see much time on the floor at the same time. I thought Stephenson would have made more sense for the Bulls than Gasol.
The Toronto Raptors were one of the big offseason winners. The Atlantic Division champs kept their nucleus intact by re-signing Kyle Lowry, Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson, plus they strengthened their bench with the signing of free agent forward James Johnson and acquiring shooting guard Lou Williams from the Atlanta Hawks.