The sniping between Chandler Parsons and his former Houston Rockets teammates has gone worldwide. Parsons has admitted to being "offended" by the Rockets organization in relation to how it handled his contract situation, but he’s offered nothing but praise for his former teammates.
Dwight Howard and James Harden haven’t exactly reciprocated. Parsons was willing to look past Howard’s comments as a player sticking up for his team, but he seemed to take Harden’s comments personally. It’s strange that Harden felt compelled to make his comments while attending a charity event in the Philippines. He was asked how the Rockets would recover from the departures of Jeremy Lin and Parsons.
"Dwight and I are the cornerstones to the Rockets," Harden said. "The rest of the guys are role players or pieces that complete our team. We’ve lost some pieces and added some pieces. I think we’ll be fine."
Harden’s comments come across as somewhat petty, and they seem to echo what Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has been saying. But the more the Rockets talk about how little they will miss Parsons, the more thin-skinned they seem. Why would you belittle a former teammate that contributed so much while playing at a level far above what he was being paid? The Rockets look really small in making these comments. And this time, Parsons couldn’t turn the other cheek.
"That’s a pretty ridiculous statement, if he meant that," Parsons told FOX Sports Radio’s Jay Mohr on Thursday. "That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to go to Dallas. I’m ready for the next step. I’m ready for a bigger role and I’m ready for more leadership. If anyone should understand that, it should be James because he was in the same situation in Oklahoma City. Then he got his chance to come to Houston and shine."
Maybe Harden foolishly believed word wouldn’t travel that fast from Manila. Or maybe he’s heard the criticism the Rockets received for being caught flat-footed by the Mavs. The good news is that a sleeping giant of a rivalry in the Western Conference may have been roused from its slumber. The games between the Rockets and Mavs in 2014-15 will be must-watches.
But before Harden’s comments made their away from Manila, Parsons joined "The Afternoon Show with Cowlishaw and Mosley" on 103.3 FM on Wednesday. He sounded off on variety of topics, including his feelings for how the Rockets handled his contract.
"I was just offended that they didn’t view me as that third star when I think I’m more than that," Parsons said. "In all honesty, I have nothing but respect and love for them. They did this a year early when they didn’t have to. I get why they did, to not let me get to unrestricted next summer. I’ve had nothing but great memories there. The entire organization, the fans in Houston were great for me. They believed in me initially and took a chance on me. I wish them nothing but the best. At the end of the day, it’s a business. He had to do what he thought was best for his organization and I had to do what’s best for my career. I figure it will work out for both of us."
I also asked him where he believed he had the most room to improve as a player. And as you might expect, he didn’t start on the offensive end.
"I think defensively I can get much better," Parsons said. "I think I can guard pretty much one through four. You have the luxury of switching pick and rolls with me. I’m 6-9, 6-10; I can really use my length on guys. Offensively, I just want to be able to do it all. I want to continue to be one of the more versatile players in the league and knock down shots and facilitate and playmake and just make the game easier for others. I think the sky’s the limit and I haven’t even scratched the surface of how good I can be."
It would be wise for Parsons to start ignoring the barbs from former teammates. With his three-year, $46 million contract, he’s become an easier target. He needs to respond to Howard and Harden on the court, not radio shows (unless it’s mine).
The one thing Parsons wanted to make clear in our interview was his relationship status. Asked if he realized that living in Dallas at age 25 while making $15 million per year was a pretty good thing, Parsons quickly added, "And single."
"I look forward to that," he said. "I look forward to being there. I went there a couple of days last week to do my physical. I was very impressed to say the least.
So far, he seems to be catching on pretty quickly.