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Chandler Parsons’ injury means the smart play is to opt in with Dallas this summer

The mediocre road paved with cheap pea gravel at the bottom of the Western Conference just turn to hot coals for the Dallas Mavericks and became a little less jagged for everyone else with Tuesday’s announcement of a season ending meniscus tear for forward Chandler Parsons.

Parsons was hitting the Renaissance portion of his comeback season from hybrid microfracture surgery. He’s cracked the 20+ point mark eight times since the beginning of February and was easing into full-time minutes leading up to the playoffs.

But at the risk of telling people much richer what to do with their finances, he should opt in this next season, stick with Dallas for another year, prove health, and cash in during the summer of 2017.

As pretty much everyone who makes a dime from anything NBA related, the salary cap is supposed to balloon from $70 million to closer to $90 million. This summer will be a free agent fiesta unlike any the league has ever seen, as most any player who has been looking ahead with their agent has given themselves flexibility for this particular off season.

Parsons was no different in that category, and wisely so, when he signed a 3-year, $46 million deal with the Mavericks two seasons ago and partied with Mark Cuban deep into the night because that’s what anyone would do in the same situation. Since then, he’s been solid when on the floor, but unable now to complete two seasons because of the same knee.

That balky knee will keep teams on the leverage side of negotiations this off season, even with blank checks abound that will make paper money look like the birthday ticket tank at Chuck E. Cheese’s. Only the time doesn’t really run out in this story.

While a meniscus tear isn’t anything like microfracture surgery, depending on what’s he’s having done, it’s likely that some of the meniscus is being cut away, and the knee will never be fully restored. It’s an injury that permanently puts the knee on a path of deterioration.

Parsons is due to make something around $16 million next year, and while he could roll the dice that a panic’d franchise will pay just to say they did something in the off season (which is likely), it probably won’t be what he can get if he gambles on himself and gets through next season merely finishing it.

Yes, it’s a gamble, but with Dirk Nowitzki in the twilight of his career on a team-friendly contract, and a Mavericks club that should have decent flexibility this off season and an aggressive owner willing to roll the dice to win, Parsons should know he’d be in a situation where he’d be on a playoff contender not having to validate anything as he comes back from another injury.

For the most part, chasing the guaranteed money is the smart play. For Parsons, it’s hard to tell what that guarantee may be. It’s more than anyone reading this makes, though, so there are no wrong decisions, only wrong results. The lousy part is, you don’t get to know the latter until you’ve made the former.