Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsChandler Parsons is ready to take the next step in his career and become more of a leader.DALLAS — Chandler Parsons embraces the challenge of proving the Dallas Mavericks didn’t overpay for him.
The Mavs certainly paid a premium rate for a player who has never been an All-Star, signing Parsons to a three-year, $46 million deal that is close to a maximum contract for a four-year veteran.
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That was the price of poker for the Mavs, who had the luxury of bidding high for Parsons due to Dirk Nowitzki’s discount deal and had to do so to have any chance of the Houston Rockets declining their right to match the offer to their restricted free agent. Parsons looks forward to showing that the Mavs made a wise investment.
“Nothing was given to me, and I believe I earned this contract,” Parsons told ESPNDallas.com. “Now obviously, I want to prove my worth.
“I want to prove I’m worth that, and I want another contract. And I want to win big. I came here looking for a bigger role, I came here for more leadership, and I’m ready for that next step in my career.”
The Mavs are confident that Parsons, who turns 26 this week, will continue to be an ascending player. He increased his scoring, rebounding and assists averages in each of his three years in Houston, topping out at 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists last season.
As more of an offensive focal point with the Mavs, it’s reasonable to project that Parsons’ numbers will continue to trend upward.
The Mavs don’t want Parsons to worry about his individual numbers. He’ll have a featured role in the offense, but it’s not as if Parsons will have the ball in his hands as much as the Rockets’ James Harden, whose scoring average and shot attempts increased dramatically after making the transition from complementary piece in Oklahoma City to go-to guy in Houston.
“People now tag me as a max player, and people expect me to produce,” said Parsons, a second-round pick who made six-figure salaries the last three seasons. “That’s where I thrive. I love the motivation.
“The last three years, people tagged me as the underpaid, blue-collar guy, and now all the sudden, I got this big raise. I’m the same player. I’m not going to change anything just for the fact that I make more money now, but definitely there’s more media, there’s more writing, there’s more expectation that people put on me.
“But I’m a basketball player. I’m going to continue to do what I do and play my game. Salary is not going to change the way I work and play.”
Nowitzki, who signed a three-year, $25 million deal that is worth less than half of his market value, can relate to Parsons’ desire to prove he’s worthy of his large paychecks.
Nowitzki had a similar feeling after the summer of 2002, when he signed his first max contract.
“I kind of was thinking, you’ve just got to keep working,” said Nowitzki, who was coming off his first All-Star appearance at the time. “I never wanted to be satisfied just because I got a contract. That didn’t really mean that much to me. I wanted to go home and get better and work on stuff.
“That maybe motivated me to be even better and go to the gym and work even harder. Yeah, it’s a motivating factor. You want to prove yourself every night, but he’ll be fine. If he just keeps doing what he’s been doing — make plays for himself and others — I think it adds another weapon for us.”
If the Mavs win a lot with Parsons playing a major role, he’ll be worth every penny in their minds.