Parsons eager to help Grizzlies win on court, free agency
The Memphis Grizzlies have wanted Chandler Parsons since the forward knocked down an NBA-record 10 3-pointers in a half against them in January 2014. Now, they finally have the outside shooter they’ve tried — and failed — to land for so many years.
The Grizzlies also have someone eager to lure more top talent to Tennessee.
“Being the first big-name free agent to come here, I think that’s special, and I want to be a trendsetter here,” Parsons said Friday. “I’m going to work extremely hard to be the best basketball player I can be. But ... next summer you best believe I’m going to be with him (general manager Chris Wallace) recruiting more talent to Memphis.”
The Grizzlies have brought big names to town trying to add a shooting threat to center Marc Gasol, forward Zach Randolph, defensive whiz Tony Allen and point guard Mike Conley. But Tayshaun Prince, Mike Miller on his second stint with the Grizzlies, and most recently Vince Carter came to Memphis later in their careers.
Parsons, introduced Friday at a news conference, is 27 and shot 41.4 percent outside the arc last season. He also has averaged 14.3 points per game in his five seasons. He chose Memphis over Portland once free agency opened July 1, agreeing to a four-year, $94 million deal that was quickly followed by Conley reaching agreement on a five-year deal worth $153 million as part of a nearly $250 million spending spree by the Grizzlies.
“This is the guy we’ve been seeking for a number of years,” Wallace said. “He fits the description for that perimeter star to a ‘T’ that we’ve been searching so aggressively for for so many years, and we think he’s got even more improvement in his bag of tricks.”
Memphis needed the big moves after some challenges over the past few months. Gasol needed surgery on his right foot in February, and Achilles tendinitis ended Conley’s season in early March. Then the Grizzlies unexpectedly fired coach Dave Joerger on May 7 after just three seasons, and he quickly was hired by Sacramento.
That opened up the job for David Fizdale, the former Miami Heat assistant who already had met Parsons years ago when coaching the NBA’s rookie-sophomore game. Fizdale also hired J.B. Bickerstaff, an assistant in Houston, where Parsons played for three seasons, as his associate head coach, and Nick Van Exel, who worked in Dallas the past two seasons, as an assistant.
“I trust his coaching staff with my life,” Parsons said.
Parsons already knew about Memphis thanks to former Florida teammate Nick Calathes, and former Grizzlies guard Courtney Lee is one of his best friends. The combination made landing Parsons very easy when they met in Los Angeles, and he committed before Wallace and Fizdale left.
He also gave Memphis a yes before Conley committed, but Parsons said they had been texting. Parsons said he is looking forward to playing with the point guard and for a team featuring what he believes is one of the best starting lineups in the NBA. Memphis has reached the playoffs six straight seasons, a streak second only to San Antonio (19) and Atlanta (9) in the league.
“Just looking at this core and what they’ve established here over the years, like I said, I wanted to be a part of that,” Parsons said. “I think my game, my style of play fits perfectly with what they’re doing here.”