Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle is doing his best to remind everybody just how difficult a road forward Chandler Parsons has traveled in his recovery from offseason knee surgery. And, more importantly, just how far he has to go.
Each time Parsons delivers a memorable performance, there’s Carlisle telling the masses it doesn’t mean much. Keeping expectations low, or in Carlisle’s mind realistic, seems to be of utmost importance. Carlisle’s message Wednesday night after Parsons saved the Mavs’ bacon against the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves with a season-high 30 points in 46 minutes: "He has not arrived."
But Carlisle didn’t stop there. He went on to deliver a lengthy soliloquy on Chandler’s health, consistency and expectations from here.
This is another step. This is a strong step towards the goal, which is 100 percent health, 100 percent conditioning, rhythm, all those things. The fact that he was able to make a variety of shots in overtime when he was fatigued, that’s a great sign. But let’s not assume that this is the guy whose back we’re going to jump on every time in crunch time – that’s not fair to him.
Dallas needed everything Parsons, who also had eight rebounds, provided to pull out the 106-94 win, a game it trailed 84-74 midway through the fourth quarter. Playing without Dirk Nowitzki because of swelling in his right knee, the Mavs needed a scoring boost, and a go-to scorer in crunch time. Parsons delivered. And Carlisle continued to deliver his sermon, too.
“I’m not lowering expectations; I’m creating a situation where he’s allowed to achieve at the right pace, at the proper pace. He and Wesley Matthews are some percentage of the way to where they’re going to be eventually, but those guys aren’t there yet. I’ve been through season-long injuries and tried to come back. I understand this is a long process. I remember when Dirk [Nowitzki] was out for 27 games. It took months for him, and it’s going to be the same way here. Tonight shows you how hard Parsons has worked. He’s worked his butt off. He’s worked harder than he ever has – he’ll tell you that. I think he appreciates the game more than he ever has because of the struggle that you go through when you go through a surgery like this. I’m really happy for him. It’s great. It’s going to give him huge confidence, but let’s keep our eye on the ball here. This is a process.”
It certainly has been a long, slow grind for Parsons. He started the season on a minutes restriction, and even volunteered to come off the bench so he could play more minutes in fourth quarters. He logged 30 minutes for the first time on Dec. 18, and has played at least 35 minutes only three times since.
He played 41 minutes on Jan. 12 before setting his season-high against the Wolves. It will be interesting to see how he bounces back on Friday against Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City. Even Parsons was quick to remind, via ESPN, after his 30-point outburst that it doesn’t mean he’s back to his old self.
“Just because I had a good game like tonight, it doesn’t mean my knee is magically 100 percent,” said Parsons, who also had eight rebounds and two assists in the win. “It’s not going to be probably all season long, but as long as I can manage it and continue to get stronger and better and keep playing confident, I can play at a high level.”