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Trading for Chandler Parsons is a vastly better option than trading for Klay Thompson

The Wolves are looking at two options for a Kevin Love trade, but only one of them is likely to actually get the team anywhere

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

If that isn't the total Timberwolves experience, I don't know what is.

So Love wasn't dealt on draft night, and it seems like everyone who would know something (I know: sources%%%) has concluded it's because Warriors General Manager Bob Myers thinks he can get Love without giving up Klay Thompson. This makes him certifiably insane and my new personal hero.

Clearly I don't love Klay (or even like him...), but the idea that David Lee and Harrison Barnes is even remotely close enough to Love to be acceptable is outright laughable. If that's the only deal on the table, then get ready for the boo birds, Target Center. Love will stick around for a year and get a hailstorm of them.

The Bulls are still chasing Carmelo around, spending all of today plastering his name and face onto every semi-flat surface of the United Center.

Yeah. Real subtle, guys.

At any rate, Chicago will circle back to Love if Melo goes elsewhere...and a Mirotic deal is still the best the Wolves can get....but for the time being, they're not in the picture. Fortunately, in this blogger's oh so humble (yet highly accurate) opinion, someone else has decided to play: Chandler Parsons.

The Rockets, for quite brilliant financial reasons, declined to pick up Parsons' final contract year, making him a restricted free agent.

To explain: even when a player is a free agent and allowed to sign a deal with another team, that player's base year salary stays on the team's salary cap as what's called a 'cap hold'. This is a security measure to prevent teams from letting players hit free agency, spending their cap, then resigning the player using Bird Rights (which allows a team to resign their own players even if it exceeds the cap)

If a team has, say, $10 million in cap room, but one of their free agents who made $6 million is still unsigned, that team only has $4 million in actual money to use. If they want to use that other $6 million, they need to either wait for that player to sign somewhere else, or renounce their free agent rights to him. So for example, even though Pau Gasol is a free agent, his $20 million salary figure from last year still sits on Los Angeles' books for the purposes of signing free agents. If they need that $20 million to sign someone else, Pau either need to sign with a different team first, or the Lakers have to simply say "we'll never sign him ever this year".

The genius of Chander's contract is his base year salary is less than a $1 million. That means that, even though he sets a cap hold for the Rockets this summer, it's only for $1 million. Because he's a restricted free agent, they retain full rights to match any offer he gets, and still have about $9 million is actual money to spend without having to renounce him. If they dealt away Jeremy Lin, that figure goes up to something around $17-18 million.

That's how they can afford to chase Carmelo and LeBron even with Dwight Howard and James Harden on the roster. Daryl Morey paid Chandler Parsons pennies on the dollar, then timed his RFA to coincide with this summer.

Genius. Complete and utter brilliance.

Anyways, let's talk about what really matters: the choice between Chandler Parsons and Klay Thompson is not a choice at all. Parsons is a better option from just about any angle you look at it from.

For starters, Parsons is just flat out better. He bests Klay pretty much entirely across the board.

PER TS% eFG% FT Rate Pts over Par Reb% Ast% Stl% Blk% Off Rtg Def Rtg Win Shares WS/48 Wins Prod
Klay Thompson 14.3 .555 .533 .147 -1.2 4.7 10.2 1.3 1.0 108 106 6.7 .112 3.6
Chandler Parsons 15.9 .565 .538 .224 +1.3 8.2 17.3 1.6 0.8 114 108 7.6 .131 8.1

Klay rates out 0.2 better at shotblocking (a skill that's basically a non-necessity for both of them anyway) and is 2 points/100 possessions better on defense...a random margin of a single made field goal. Parsons kills him at everything else...a 10% higher free throw rate, nearly twice the rebounding and assist rates, and over twice the Wins Produced.

So if you're weighing these two based on simply who is the better player, it's Chandler Parsons, and it's not at all close.

On top of that, Parsons has gotten markedly better each year he's been in the NBA. Klay has not. At best, Thompson has stagnated in most areas. In a couple, he's alarmingly regressed.

Klay Thompson PER TS% eFG% FTr Reb% Ast% Stl% WS/48
2011 - 2012 14.9 .545 .520 .127 5.7 14.2 1.6 .050
2012 - 2013 12.7 .533 .509 .130 5.7 10.1 1.5 .070
2013 - 2014 14.3 .555 .533 .147 4.7 10.2 1.3 .112

First red flag, of course, is his assist rate. He didn't start off all that great to begin with, and he's passed the ball even less as he's gotten older. That's 100% the wrong way around, especially for a guard.

But big thing again: free throw rate. Terrible. Awful. Atrocious. Klay averages just 3 FTA for every 20 shots he takes. That's really bad efficiency (which is why his PER is still below average) The anti-Love. Poor free throw rate almost always means poor handles and a lack of aggressiveness. Say it with me again: poor free throw rate almost always means poor handles and a lack of aggressiveness. Michael Beasley. Wes Johnson. Derrick Williams.

By contrast, Parsons has very steadily improved in his three years in the NBA.

Chandler Parsons PER TS% eFG% FTr Reb% Ast% Stl% WS/48
2011 - 2012 13.3 .513 .506 .142 9.6 11.7 2.1 .090
2012 - 2013 15.3 .584 .567 .165 8.3 15.6 1.4 .121
2013 - 2014 15.9 .565 .538 .224 8.2 17.3 1.6 .131

Not only is he getting better linearly, but Parsons is a perfect example of smart adaptation to your teammates. As he's been surrounded by better and better players, he's shifted his game to what's important to blend with them. Not as much need to jack up shots with James Harden on board; let's focus on passing and shoot better by picking our spots more. Dwight Howard? Guess we can worry about rebounding less, focus more on passing the ball.

See the difference? At best, you can say Klay needed to rebound and pass less to focus more on his role as a shooter....except his shooting hasn't improved. So probably more accurately, you can say Klay just isn't very good at rebounding or passing in any case, and does it even less because.....well, were I to guess, Mark Jackson realized he was bad and built a system to hide that by not asking him to do it anyway.

Also factor in the age/progression curve (basically what age players stop making big improvements at on average). Klay is 24. Parsons is 25. Five independent studies basically all concluded the same thing: 25 is about the age players in the modern NBA peak.

Wages of Win

After 25, it's all downhill

Win Shares and Aging

Age and Productivity Model Revisited

Functional Data Analysis of Aging Curves in Sports

The greatest variation in that data is age 27. Further, players skilled in multiple areas of the game tend to peak higher and plateau there longer (not a big surprise) That's a big plus for Chandler, as he's adept not only at scoring, but also is a tremendous facilitator for his position.

As both are about at the age where the age/production curve kicks in, these three years can more or less predict their career arcs for them: Parsons is a skilled player whos versatility lets him blend with any lineup and will probably keep getting markedly better for another year or two because he simply has more ground he can cover on the field of potential. Klay, on the other hand, is basically the player he's going to be the rest of his career already. While he's a year younger, his much more limited skillset means his ceiling is lower. If he was going to get a lot better in the future, he'd already be getting better now. And he's not.

And third: there's a massive difference in the players that would come with each of them.

The outline of what Flip will accept in a Klay deal is pretty clear: Thompson and David Lee at a minimum. The Warriors keep trying to hold Klay out of it. Trust me, as nervous as Flip's decision making makes us, he will not accept a deal from the Warriors without Klay. But even so, Thompson is not going to take us far....and is clearly not worth the $12mil/year or so he's going to get....and David Lee is...well....

Additional pieces don't make it much better. You'd certainly want to get a first round pick, which is good. But Harrison Barnes is even worse than a lot. I won't chart out his statistical comps for you guys, but yeah. I thought Marvin Williams would be a good range to start in. WRONG. Barnes couldn't even touch Williams. Suffice it to say it wouldn't be entirely unfair to compare Barnes to JJ Barea and Alexey Shved...

So of all the players we could get potentially get in a Love/Klay deal, the best is probably Draymond Green. Who I was reminded last night, our Hoopus Score loved. But not exactly a haul for a top 10 player.

Meanwhile, a deal with the Rockets would not only yield Parsons, but probably net Terrence Jones, a promising young power forward who's solid output from last year quite honestly caught me by surprise:

PER TS% eFG%% FTr Pts over Par Reb% Ast% Blk% WS/48 Wins Produced
19.1 .577 .564 .274 3.2 14.1 7.0 3.5 .169 8.8

Jones could certainly hold down the power forward spot for the next couple of years, sans-Love. If he can improve his defensive awareness and consistently hit the 3 ball, he could probably hold it down permanently.

Also likely in a Rockets deal is a first round pick. You could probably bargain for a second if you really pressed, or maybe take a flier on Donatas Motiejunas (another pick we basically sold Houston.....) And I suppose if you think you can deal off Barea and one of Brewer/Chase, taking back Jeremy Lin wouldn't be unbearable. Super expensive, but heavens knows this team needs a backup point guard. And since my dream of signing Patty Mills to a lifetime contract have been mercilessly dashed on the rocky shores of a shoulder injury....

Now, earlier in the Love trade primer I said I didn't see a trade with Houston happening because Parsons wouldn't want to sign here. I was wrong. What I overlooked was that almost everyone takes the money on their first big contract, and as the NBA's most underpaid player, this would be especially so for Parsons.

Unfortunately, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement works against us in this case. The old CBA from 2005 allowed a player to retain his Bird Rights in a sign-and-trade deal, meaning he could sign a 5 year deal with a 7.5% base salary raise scale. The new 2011 CBA eliminates the Bird Rights in sign-and-trades, meaning we can only offer Parsons what everyone else can on a free agent offer sheet: 4 years with a 4.5 raise scale.

If we could give Parsons an extra year and 3% more in base yearly salary raises, we'd probably win this race without breaking a sweat. As it is instead, we'll have to beat out the rest the old fashioned way...simply offer more money. I suppose the Rockets might be inclined to try and help out since they'd stand to gain Kevin Love in this sort of deal, but in the end it's really Chandler Parsons' call. He can sign with whoever he wants to, regardless of what the Rockets want.

And this all assumes that Flip even wants to go for this. I mean, it sure seems like there's interest. It's been widely reported to be on his radar. But he seems fixated on Klay for whatever reason, and if he drags that out while Carmelo makes a quick decision, it's likely Parsons will sign an offer sheet before the Klay situation is resolved, eliminating him as an option.

And of course, Parsons could always just screw the Rockets and sign an offer sheet immediately, eliminating all the cap space they're chasing Melo with.

Best situation for the Wolves would be for Carmelo to decide quickly and the Warriors to just shut down and flat out say no to a Love deal. Depending on who Melo picks, that would put either the Rockets or Bulls in play for Love very quickly. A Rockets trade still isn't as good as a Bulls trade. Parsons will cost even more than Thompson...probably something like $13 - 14mil/year or so (although he'll actually be close to worth it). As a first round rookie, Nikola Mirotic would only cost $2mil/yr, since he'd be locked into the rookie pay scale.

(It's been pointed out to me that Mirotic, in fact, is NOT locked into the rookie scale anymore. However, he's still unlikely to cost more than the mid-level exception, so we're still talking less than half of what Parsons will cost)

But if it's between Klay Thompson or Chandler Parsons, there should be absolutely no debate about who to go with. Parsons is flat out better. The end.