DALLAS – One of the primary reasons Chandler Parsons suggested he temporarily serve as a sixth man was to preserve some of his minutes for crunch time, but he had no complaints about watching with the game on the line Wednesday night.
Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle opted to stick with Raymond Felton instead of playing Parsons down the stretch for a simple reason: Felton was playing better. Parsons had no argument, acknowledging after the 98-95 loss to the Atlanta Hawks that he’s struggling with the physical and mental aspects of coming back from hybrid microfracture surgery on his right knee.
“The whole process is frustrating,” Parsons told ESPN.com after finishing a conditioning session following the game, in which he scored five points on 2-of-9 shooting and played only 21 minutes. “I obviously want to be back to how I was playing before and want to be in at the end of the game, but I didn’t play well tonight. It’s frustrating. I’m not making shots. I have no lift, no legs.
“I’ve never struggled like this. It’s something different and something I’ve never gone through. It’s hard. It’s been very difficult. It’s just something I’ll continue to struggle with and I’ll stay after until I fix it.”
Parsons, who is in the second season of a three-year, $46 million deal that he could opt out of this summer, is averaging 7.9 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists while shooting 44.5 percent from the floor and 33.3 percent from 3-point range in 20.2 minutes per game. All of those numbers are career lows, which was to be expected early in the season after undergoing a major surgery on May 1 that prevented him from playing at all in the preseason.
With precious little practice time due to Dallas’ travel-heavy schedule, Parsons is essentially trying to play his way into a rhythm after a six-month rehab process. He’s had some good nights, but has yet to get into an extended groove and certainly isn’t satisfied with the results.
“I feel like I’m a step slow,” Parsons said. “I’m shot-faking and guys are landing before I’m even going by them. I’m getting in the lane and my shot’s getting blocked. I’m not finishing. I’m not shooting the ball great. I’m not getting to the foul line. I’m not doing much. It’s going to take a while, but it’s just something I’ve got to keep dealing with and keep going and keep working hard until it gets right.
“It’s just uncomfortable and a bad feeling struggling like this.”
The Mavs medical staff has gradually increased Parsons’ minutes restriction from 12 to about 25 per game and has yet to approve him playing in both ends of back-to-backs. The hope is that he’ll be cleared to play without restrictions in January.
Parsons said he doesn’t feel pain or consciously think about his surgically repaired knee while he’s playing. However, he knows his return from such a major injury is a difficult process and admitted that it’s a challenge to “try to stay positive and confident.”
“I think a lot of it is mental,” Parsons said. “Obviously, I’m cleared to play or I wouldn’t be playing. Physically, I feel fine. It bothers me sometimes or it’s a little sore sometimes, but nothing outrageous. I think it’s between my ears a little bit, being a little timid. I’ve got to stay aggressive and believe in it.
“I’ve never had an injury like this before, never been in a situation like this before. A lot of firsts for me. I’ve just got to get through it.”