All Wednesday morning, the topic of discussion has been the Cleveland Cavaliers paving the streets for the King’s possible return home. A three-team trade with the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets unloaded $9.5 million and made enough room for a max contract. The Cavs are also actively pursuing Ray Allen and Mike Miller to make Cleveland a little more familiar to their former superstar.
But in the event LeBron James once again spurns his hometown Cavs for the Miami Heat (or someone else), it didn’t seem like Cleveland had a backup plan other than more heartbreak and “God hates Cleveland” jokes…until now.
According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, if the Cavaliers miss on LeBron James this summer, Houston Rockets small forward Chandler Parsons will become their No. 1 target. Unloading Jarrett Jack, Tyler Zeller and Sergey Karasev in Wednesday’s deal freed up a total of nearly $22 million in cap room, so Cleveland certainly has the space to make Parsons, a restricted free agent, a max offer that would test Houston’s willingness to match.
Last season with the Rockets, Parsons averaged 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game while shooting 47 percent from the field and 37 percent from three-point range. After watching the Charlotte Hornets extend a max offer sheet to Gordon Hayward, a comparable player, it would be shocking for Parsons to not also receive one from somebody this summer considering the market right now.
Woj says Trevor Ariza is the Cavs backup plan. Stein says it’s Chandler Parsons.
— Brett Poirier NBA (@BrettNBA) July 9, 2014
Parsons won’t be the only target of the Cleveland Cavaliers as a LeBron James consolation prize, however. According to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, free agent Trevor Ariza is part of their Plan B. Ariza is an unrestricted free agent this summer and is coming off a tremendous year with the Washington Wizards, averaging 14.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game while locking down perimeter players on the wing and shooting 40.7 percent from three-point range.
At age 24, Chandler Parsons has a lot more upside than Ariza, who is basically just an extremely useful role player/veteran who can provide a team with valuable 3-and-D services. However, there’s a very good chance the Rockets would match a max offer on Parsons. If LeBron James stays in Miami, then most likely so would Chris Bosh. The Rockets recently offered Bosh a max deal, so if he stays in Miami, Houston will be able to afford to match and keep Parsons in their core with James Harden and Dwight Howard.