Memphis Grizzlies: The worst free-agent signing in franchise history

In free agency, sometimes you hit a home run and sometimes you strike out. Here is the Memphis Grizzlies’ biggest swing and miss in franchise history.

The Memphis Grizzlies have a very bright future ahead of them. The rebuilding project that began in 2018 is advancing ahead of schedule, as the Grizzlies finished one game away from making the playoffs in 2020 and have a solid young core in place.

The Grizzlies can add another important piece or two on the free agent market this offseason. Hopefully they don’t repeat one of their biggest mistakes of the past and sign the wrong player to a salary cap-crippling contract.

Hands down, the worst free agent signing in Grizzlies history is Chandler Parsons. He signed a four-year, $94 million contract with Memphis in 2016.

It was safe to say that the Grizzlies had high expectations for the up-and-coming young star. At 27 years old, Parsons had averaged 14.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game and shot 47.3 percent from the field and 37.7 percent from 3-point range in five seasons with the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks.

Parsons, a 6’10” small forward, was drafted by the Rockets in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft. The Florida product exceeded expectations in his first five years as a pro, and the Grizzlies jumped at the opportunity to sign him on the free agent market.

The Grizzlies front office should have taken a harder look at why Mark Cuban was letting Chandler Parsons walk away from a contract extension with the Mavericks without even giving Parsons an offer.

When Parsons arrived in Memphis, the organization felt that they had gotten a top-tier young talent.

But then the knee injuries began to creep in.

Parsons had peaked with his departure from the Mavericks, but it was not due to Parsons reaching his ceiling in potential. Knee injuries have ruined many careers in a lot of sports. Some guys just never come back the same. Unfortunately for Parsons, this was the case, and it was easy to see. Throughout three seasons with the Grizzlies, Parsons played just 95 games out of a possible 246 due to injuries.

Parsons averaged 7.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game for the Grizzlies, shooting 39.1 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from deep with the Grizzlies. Breaking down his contract, Parsons was paid about $940,000 for each game he played.

The worst part about being stuck with Parsons’ massive contract is that he was labeled all but untradeable until the final year of the deal, when he became more attractive as an expiring contract than a contributing player.

In the 2019 offseason, the Grizzlies traded Parsons to the Atlanta Hawks for center Miles Plumlee and forward Solomon Hill. Parsons only played five games for the Hawks, and since then has not been on an NBA roster.