As the LeBron James-Carmelo Anthony vigil continues, one of free agency's most important dominoes fell on Wednesday afternoon when restricted free agent Chandler Parsons agreed to sign a three-year offer sheet with the Dallas Mavericks worth more than $45 million.
When Parsons signs the contract after the market officially opens tomorrow, the Houston Rockets will have 72 hours to decide whether or not to match. That decision will send waves rippling throughout free agency.
Where the Rockets stand
The Rockets' ostensible goal this summer was to retain Parsons while taking advantage of his small cap hold ($2.9 million) to clear enough space under the salary cap to attract a top-tier free agent like Anthony or Chris Bosh. Time is now working against them. If Houston matches the offer sheet, the Rockets immediately go far over the cap and no longer have any leverage to force a sign-and-trade for Anthony (who appears unlikely to choose the Rockets) or Bosh.
So, if Houston is to pull off the dream offseason, everything will have to come together by sometime early Sunday, a timetable that might not be realistic if Bosh is waiting on James' decision before making his own.
Missing out on this summer's free agents wouldn't be the worst possible outcome for Houston, which still has plenty of tradeable contracts (including Parsons, though he'd have to agree to any deal in the next year if matched, and could not be traded to Dallas) and young prospects. The Rockets might be able to get involved in the Kevin Love bidding, or be in position if another star (like LaMarcus Aldridge) unexpectedly became available.