The intriguing Carlisle-Parsons relationship takes another odd twist

BY Jeff Caplan • February 4, 2016

No Dallas Mavericks player has been filling it up lately like Chandler Parsons. So when the 6-foot-10 forward was on the bench and not on the court with Dallas desperately trying to claw past the Miami Heat on Wednesday, it came as something of a surprise.

For much of the early season, Parsons was not part of the Mavs' closing unit because of his ongoing recovery from hybrid microfracture knee surgery. But as his minutes have increased over the last month or so and as his production has skyrocketed, Parsons has been something of a go-to scorer. Only he wasn't with Wednesday's game on the line, and on the Mavs' final possession, Raymond Felton missed a long 3-pointer after he couldn't move the ball over to Dirk Nowitkzi.

Miami walked out of Dallas with a 93-90 loss, handing the Mavs a second consecutive loss with now a back-to-back ahead starting Friday against San Antonio and ending Saturday at Memphis.

Afterward, Parsons, who did not have one of his better games with 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting, said, via ESPN, that not playing in crunch time was startling to him.

Carlisle told reporters after the game that Parsons had a "rough two or three quarters" and felt the team needed playmaking and quickness, so he rolled with the veteran Felton.

The Carlisle-Parsons relationship is certainly an interesting one going all the way back to Parsons' arrival in Dallas during the summer of 2014. During the preseason, Carlisle publicly called out Parsons for being out of shape, saying, “One man’s bulking up, is another man’s not quite in shape yet.” 

That comment provoked Parsons to post on Instagram this shirtless picture showing off his abdominal region and a sad face. Later, Carlisle publicly apologized for calling Parsons out of shape.

More recently, Carlisle railed on Parsons' lack of defense after a Jan. 24 loss to the Houston Rockets in which Parsons scored 31 points, but finished a minus-30 in the game, meaning the Mavs were outscored by 30 points when Parsons was on the floor.

This is what Carlisle said about that:

Just a few days earlier, after Parsons poured in 30 points to get Dallas past a pesky Minnesota team, Carlisle did all he could to temper expectations for Parsons as a regular fourth-quarter go-to option: "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," Carlisle told reporters.

Mavs owner Mark Cuban shelled out big bucks to grab Parsons from the rival Rockets with the expectation that he would be a foundation-type player as the franchise transitions through the end of Nowitzki's career and into his eventual retirement.

The unfortunate knee injury that forced Parsons out of last year's first-round playoff loss to Houston and led to the surgical procedure in the offseason, certainly threw an unforeseen slow-down into those plans. But knee surgery or not, the evolving relationship between Carlisle and Parsons is certainly intriguing, if not a bit confounding, to watch.