BROOKLYN — NBA veteran Chandler Parsons opened up to HoopsHype about the strange circumstances surrounding the most recent years of his pro career.
Parsons, 31, is currently on the active roster for the Atlanta Hawks and is in the final season of a maximum contract. That means next summer, the 6-foot-10 forward will become a free agent for the first time since the summer of 2016. As such, the market will be able to correct itself with a new deal for Parsons – who is eager to prove he still has plenty of gas left in the tank.
We spoke to the former SEC Player of the Year about the Hawks as well as his new home in Los Angeles, advice on training and more.
What are some of your general takeaways of the Atlanta Hawks? What are some of the things that you’ve noticed about this young team as one of its veterans?
Chandler Parsons: It’s cool just being a veteran on a young team like this that has a lot of talent and a lot of room to grow. Obviously, we’re not winning as many games as we’d like to. But I think this season has pretty much been dedicated to developing these young guys, getting them more experience and just for them to continue to grow in a positive way and not get accustomed and get used to losing, but to learn from it and get the experience, get the exposure and continue to grow and get better. For me, I’ve just been a veteran, good locker room guy trying to lead these guys off the court and just waiting for my opportunity to play.
When you hear terms like “good locker room guy”, what are some of the things that you’ve picked up along the way that you can do to help off the court?
CP: Yeah. Just being there for them, answering questions, leading by example in practice and shootaround and film sessions and just helping out any way I can. Some of these guys like Cameron Reddish are 20 years old and for some of these guys, it’s all so new for them and it’s a long season. They’re pretty much at the length of their college season now, they basically have two more [college seasons to play]. It’s long. There’s still a lot of basketball to play and these guys are going to continue to get better. Just doing really anything they need, being another coach out there, things like that.
Would coaching be something that you’d consider after your playing career is over?
CP: No chance! Never. I’d rather own the team. I’d rather own the team than coach the team. I don’t know if I have the patience enough to coach. I guess I wouldn’t count it out.
Speaking of owners, how’s your relationship with Mark Cuban these days?
CP: Me and Cuban are cool, man. I spent some time with him this summer. I’m happy for him and the way Dallas is playing. Luka Doncic has really taken his game to the next level. He’s one of the best players in our league. Kristaps Porzingis is balling, Tim Hardaway Jr. is balling. They’ve got a lot of pieces that know their roles and they play hard, so I’m happy for him.
How often do you pitch Cuban with an idea for Shark Tank? If I had his number, I’d probably get him one or two a week.
CP: It’s crazy. I don’t, but it’s crazy how many people around me are like, “Hey, you’re still in touch with him. Can you ask him about this?” My mom hit me up the other day about some weight loss stuff that she heard about and how it’s crazy. I hit him up and he was like, “Yeah, That’s not mine. It’s not real. Don’t do it.” Something like that I’ll still talk to him about, but I’m not really inventing things and pitching it to him.
It sounds like you’ve got a good real estate mind, though. How is the new property? I saw some photos and I know it’s from the creator of CSI.
CP: Yeah, the house is sick. I was spending a lot of time in Malibu last summer and just like the vibe out there and I found a good house. It pretty much will be my main residence going forward. It’s an hour away from the city.
Will this be your first time really living in L.A. or have you lived there before?
CP: I’ve lived there for the last six years, so I just kept migrating West. I started in West Hollywood and then went to Beverly Hills and went to Bel Air and now just keep going closer to the water.
Are you a surfer? Are you a big water guy?
CP: I like being on the beach, I like being on the water. I like paddle-boarding and being out on a boat and stuff like that. I think it’s really my vibe during the summer, beach workouts and things like that. Malibu, it’s a whole other world.
Who do you train with when you are in Los Angeles?
CP: So, it depends. I’ll mix it up between Noah LaRoche basketball-wise and Drew Hanlen. I was with Rob McClanaghan. I mix it up. I don’t think guys should train with just one trainer. I think if you can learn something from Chris Brickley when you’re out here in New York or Ronnie Taylor when you’re in Miami, take away something from everyone. I think there are so many good trainers out there that you should try and expand on your game from anybody that you can. That’s what I do and then just have a whole training regimen with different rehab guys, different strength guys, cardio guys, just things like that and mix it up.
Is that one of the things you tell younger players? What are some of the other tidbits you give them?
CP: I think it’s good for them to just experience everything. I think if any of the rookies are in L.A. this summer, they should hit me up and stay with me for a week and do a day in the life of a vet or something like that and see step by step what to do. I guess everyone has their own place where they live in the summer, but everyone pretty much at some point will be in L.A. I think it’s important just to try everything and see what you like, see who you don’t like and go from there.
Who are some of the guys that took you under when you came into the league?
CP: I was always cool with Blake Griffin. He was in the league before me. Even this past summer, I hired his entire strength team and we trained together accordingly. Joakim Noah was one of the guys I trained with every day in the summer. That’s pretty much our group and then we’ll go to different workouts, different pickups like UCLA or pickups at West L.A. College and have our team already.
Do you know how Noah is doing these days? I know that he had some serious injury that kept him sidelined for a bit.
CP: He’s good. You can tell he’s been working out. He’s the type of guy that works so hard that he’ll be back. During the deadline and during the buyout season, somebody will pick him up. He’ll be a key part for, hopefully, a contender.
You’ve played with some incredible guards in the past like James Harden, Kyle Lowry and Mike Conley. What are some of your thoughts when you look at Trae Young?
CP: Trae is a lot better than I thought. I thought that he was just this guard that jacked up a lot of shots and had some range and could hit buckets, but he’s unbelievable. He’s one of the top point guards in the league. He can handle it, he can shoot from anywhere, he can get in the paint and can get to his floater when he wants. When he wants to pass the ball, he can put up 15 assists a night. He’s really, really good and just continues to work hard and continues to be one of the best players in the league.
What about some of the rookies that Atlanta drafted in 2019? They have an interesting group of young players.
CP: They’re really good. You see De’Andre Hunter over there and he’s just so solid. He doesn’t play like a rookie. He’s like Harrison Barnes, quiet. He’s methodical. He gets to his spots. He’s under control. He’s never going to take a bad shot. Cameron Reddish is a little looser and a little more swaggy when you see him play, but just the potential… The sky’s the limit for both of them and they’re so advanced. It’s almost like the game is so easy to them in a way, it hurts them because they’ve just got to continue to work on their craft, keep being good guys. Like when Reddish struggled the first month, he was still defending and was probably our best defender, which is good. A lot of young guys, when their shot’s not falling, they’ll shut down. He stuck with it and he found ways to impact a game without scoring really or not being effective or efficient on the offensive end. But he stuck with it and now he’s having some big games. You can tell he’s getting more comfortable every single game. And then there is Bruno Fernando, too. He’s a big body. He can step out and shoot the ball. He’s a mismatch down low on the post. The future here is crazy. It’s not going the way we thought. But those three rookies and Trae and Kevin Huerter and John Collins? I don’t know a young core that’s that good.
But on that same note, unfortunately: How hard is it for you to not get that playing time even with knowing how important it is for Atlanta to develop their young core?
CP: It sucks. It really sucks. Obviously, I want to play. I want to help. I’m healthy and I’m in a contract year, so I want to show the team that I’m healthy and I can play and I can definitely help this team win. But at the same time, I understand the objective here and I understand the operation and knowing that development, so I’m just staying ready. Like I said, I’m being a leader and being a good locker room guy. Whenever he wants to play me, I’ll be ready.
What do you see happening in the future in terms of your playing career? What are some things that you think you can provide a team moving forward?
CP: I know that in today’s NBA I can definitely be a stretch forward. And I feel like, with these lineups, I can also even play the five. Also: twos and threes are the same positions, so I can play two-through-five. And I can bring the ball up, I can shoot the ball and I’m 6-foot-10. There’s not a lot of people that can move like me who are this height. I’m tall, man. It’s always been about health with me and I’m the most healthy I’ve been in a long time. I’ve just got to sustain that and keep managing it. My knees feel great, my body feels great. Hopefully, it’s just a blessing in disguise that I’m not playing now and I’ll be ready. It sucks, but at the same time I’m preserving my body and like I said… I’m dying to play but it’s out of my control.
Do you think that there were misconceptions about you and the way everything went down with your contract situation and with your finish in Memphis?
CP: I think anybody with a brain in my situation would have taken the contract. It’s funny. People that are hating on it, if they were in my shoes or if their son was in my shoes, they would have told them to do the same thing. Right? Should I have predicted that I was going to be hurt and took less or took half the money? That’s psychotic. Now the contract is what it was and, obviously, I didn’t live up to it. I think if I was healthy, I fully would have done that and I think I was on the path of being a really good player in this league. But people are judged off of their salary and I understand that and that’s how it goes. It was out of my control as far as injuries go and not being able to play as much as I wanted to in Memphis sucked. But it’s silly when people hate on it. Anybody in their right mind would’ve done the same thing.
Now that your contract (and many other big deals that were signed that summer) is coming to an end, are you sort of excited for a new chapter?
CP: I am excited. I went from my rookie deal the first three years to a max contract over the last six years. So I’ve had a lot of expectations, a lot of pressure. And I haven’t been the healthiest player in the league. I think just to get on a team next year, on a financial friendly deal, it changes the whole look of you to the fans as well as the media and everything. You see a lot of guys that do that. Dwight Howard on a max deal was awful. Dwight on an interim deal is phenomenal. Someone like Andre Iguodala, when he goes to say, the Lakers for minimum, he’s going to be this huge value and people are going to love him. That’s just how it goes. I have no complaints. I’ve played basketball in the NBA. I set up my future here. I still think there is time to just show I can still play. I just turned 31. It’s still young and, technically, I should be in my prime. I’m not worried about it. I just want to play. People probably don’t think I’m healthy just because I’m sitting over here and not playing. But I’m practicing every day. I’m doing every shootaround. I’m doing every lift. I’m doing everything that the team is doing besides playing in the game.
I don’t think a lot of people know that you are actually healthy and active.
CP: I think people see that and they see that I’m not playing. That’s what I’m saying, they think it’s my choice and that I don’t want to play. Basketball is my whole life. It’s been my whole life. Obviously, I was really good at it to get the contracts. I’m really good at it to get the contracts I did. No one just gave me those contracts. But yes, I always say: “Take something away that you love the most in the world and not be able to do it for the last basically three years.” Nobody will enjoy that. I think I haven’t really done media. This is the first time I’ve talked to media since I’ve been in Atlanta. I did media day in Atlanta, but that’s really the only time I’ve ever talked about anything the last couple of years.