Mike Conley isn’t going anywhere. Chandler Parsons is coming on board.
The Memphis Grizzlies had the most productive free agent day in franchise history on Friday, retaining Conley and landing Parsons with nearly $250 million worth of spending.
Conley agreed to terms on a five-year maximum contract worth $153 million and Parsons got four years and $94 million, three people with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the deals cannot be signed until July 7.
Just like a year ago with longtime center Marc Gasol, the Grizzlies were confident from the start that Conley would remain in Memphis. He has spent all of his seasons nine there and established himself as the motor that drives the Grit ‘n Grind bus. A fan favorite for his toughness and community engagement, Conley orchestrates the offense and makes sure Gasol and Zach Randolph get their touches while also playing excellent defense on the other end.
USA Today first reported Conley’s agreement.
Conley met with Dallas on Friday, but never really considered leaving the only organization he has known after the Grizzlies made several moves to show him they were committed to staying competitive in the demanding Western Conference.
The Grizzlies made a video for Conley before the July 1 bell sounded that included a cameo from minority owner and music superstar Justin Timberlake and featured Gasol, Randolph and Tony Allen reflecting on how essential Conley is to what they do.
More importantly, they let coach Dave Joerger go to Sacramento and replaced him with the charismatic David Fizdale, then made quite a statement earlier on Friday by shelling out big money to bring in Parsons.
“This is a perfect fit for me and I can’t wait to get started!!” Parsons posted on Instagram under a picture of him posing with Fizdale and a No. 25 Memphis jersey. “I want to thank the owner (Robert Pera) for believing in me, Coach Fiz, JB (Bickerstaff), and everyone else involved!!”
Parsons also met with the Portland Trail Blazers before deciding on the Grizzlies.
Signing Parsons is one of the biggest free agency moves the Grizzlies have ever made, and it instantly injects some much-needed energy and versatility into a lineup that appeared to have gotten a little old and stale last year.
Parsons averaged 16.7 points and 5.7 rebounds for the Mavericks last season, but has dealt with injuries that limited him to 127 games over the last two years.
When healthy, he is a playmaking forward who can shoot the 3-pointer — a much-needed attribute for the Grizzlies — and defend multiple positions.
Parsons also has earned a reputation as being one of the best in the league at persuading other free agents to join him. He helped lure Dwight Howard to Houston and got DeAndre Jordan to commit to the Mavericks last summer before he changed his mind and stayed with the Clippers.
Parsons left Houston two years ago for a three-year mini-max deal with the Mavericks, a strategy orchestrated by his agent Dan Fegan as a means of maximizing his earning potential. The deal included an opt-out after the second year that would allow him to plunge back into the free agent waters when the league’s new television deal sent the salary cap skyrocketing.
So even though he has been limited by injuries in recent seasons, Parsons found no shortage of suitors as the free agent market opened. Portland offered him a chance to team up with rising star Damian Lillard on a tight-knit team that has designs on challenging in the Western Conference.
Going to the Grizzlies also allowed him to reunite with assistant coach Bickerstaff, who was an assistant in Houston when Parsons played there.