Chandler Parsons gallantly storming the gates of the Wells Fargo Center on the back of a gigantic white maverick named Dirk has me shaking in my little Reebok Questions. I'm not afraid of Parsons, Dirk and Dallas on the court. No, thinking this incarnation of the Philadelphia 76ers can compete with this 2014-15 Mavericks squad is a fools errand.
I'm afraid of Chandler Parsons because I'm afraid of losing K.J. McDaniels the same way the Rockets saw Parsons leave for an in-state rival last summer to the tune of a three-year, $46 million offer sheet. McDaniels will be a restricted free agent this summer, just like Parsons was a year ago. And it gives me nightmarish chills imagining a world where the athletic rookie from Clemson isn't wearing a Sixers uniform alongside Joel Embiid.
It's been a debate within LB email threads ever since McDaniels signed that unprecedented non-guaranteed, one-year deal for the rookie minimum: Would the Sixers really let him walk after one year?
McDaniels isn't your average second round pick. Once again, he told me in Orlando this summer he truly believed he was going to be a top-20 pick on Draft night. Perhaps he received faulty information from his representation, or perhaps he simply was more confident in his otherworldly athletic abilities and suddenly smooth outside stroke than the 30 teams in the NBA were.
Regardless, this kid can play. Per 36 minutes, the 21-year-old is averaging 14.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 1.1 steals this season. He's leading the Sixers in true-shooting percentage much in part to leading the team in three-point shooting at 38.6 percent — which is above league average.
So Sam Hinkie and Brett Brown currently have a knockdown three-point shooter, a ferocious shot-blocker from the wing and arguably already one of the most exciting players in the league on their roster. That's a recipe rival organizations will pay top dollar for.
I'm currently expecting some NBA team to offer McDaniels a contract in the four-years, $32 million dollar range. That $8 million annual salary was the typical slot for a fourth or fifth man on a championship-contending team over the last five years. But with this new TV contract, that annual salary is going to be somewhat of a baseline for all rotation players in the NBA.
No Sixers player currently on the books until 2016-17 will have an annual salary even close to that $8 million McDaniels is hypothetically receiving here. Would Hinkie match an offer sheet of that magnitude for McDaniels if it would in turn pay a second-round pick twice as much as his franchise's assumed focal point? Part of the GM's master plan has been keeping his team young in order to offer big paydays and contract extensions all around the same time in attempt to avoid a James Harden-esque situation OKC faced in 2012. McDaniels jumping the gun on restricted free agency certainly thwarts that scheme.
I truly believe McDaniels will stay in Philadelphia for a long time. What I've heard certainly doesn't point more towards the contrary than it supports that confidence. However, Chandler Parsons and Daryl Morey used to be considered very close friends. I watched them giggle like little school boys in the TD Garden away team locker room a year ago. Parsons was a good soldier. He would never flee Houston while the Rockets tried to land Chris Bosh.
Yet, it still happened. So watching this handsome swingman tonight is going to scare the living hell out of me.