Chandler Parsons medically cleared to play, but Grizzlies likely won't use him

Grizzlies forward Chandler Parsons likely will not play despite being medically cleared. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Grizzlies forward Chandler Parsons likely will not play despite being medically cleared. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Out since the fourth game of the season with a recurring knee injury, Chandler Parsons has been medically cleared to play, but the Memphis Grizzlies do not plan to play him for the foreseeable future.

Parsons, who had season-ending knee injuries or surgeries each of the last four years, has dealt with right knee swelling since October 24. And in the three games he did appear in, he only averaged 5.7 points on 41.2 percent shooting in 15.3 minutes per game.

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Parsons participated in a full five-on-five scrimmage Saturday, but the team is not ready to use him yet. It’s quite the dramatic fall from grace for Parsons, a once-promising forward who is owed more than $50 million for this season and next.

From free agent recruiter to DNP-CD

Parsons was twice a major free agent acquisition, first signing a three-year, $46 million deal with the Dallas Mavericks, where he formed “the NBA’s biggest bromance” with owner Mark Cuban. Cuban even used Parsons as a pitch man in a failed attempt to recruit DeAndre Jordan to the Mavericks.

Although he wouldn’t get the max contract he wanted from Cuban, Parsons landed a four-year, $94 million deal from Memphis. Unfortunately, injuries and ineffective play have prevented him from elevating the Grizzlies. After averaging 15.4 points per game in his previous four seasons, Parsons has only scored 7.0 points per game in Memphis while playing 73 out of a possible 196 games.

Now it isn’t clear that there’s room in the rotation for Parsons.

How the Grizzlies have replaced Parsons

Parsons was supposed to be a wing who could move the ball well and be a potential third star alongside Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. While the Grizzlies are still looking for their third star, they’ve been mostly able to replicate what Parsons was supposed to bring.

Parsons’ absence allowed the Grizzlies to draft Jaren Jackson Jr. with the fourth pick in the draft, and the stretch-four is third on the team in scoring at 12.8 points per game. Meanwhile, shooting guard Garrett Temple is adding 10.6 points per game and point forward Kyle Anderson is averaging 7.3 points, 6.5 boards, and 2.9 assists per game.

The Grizzlies currently sit at 16-16, which is a game behind the 8-seed Houston Rockets but also two games ahead of the 14th-ranked Minnesota Timberwolves. A healthy and productive Parsons could go a long way for the team’s playoff push, but the Grizzlies aren’t counting on him any time soon.

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