The Rockets threw every resource and asset they could think of into their attempts to lure free agent Dwight Howard to Houston. The Rockets moved players to make room for a maximum financial offer. Then the team's ownership, front-office executives, coaches and former Rockets big men Hakeem Olajuwon, Yao Ming and Ralph Sampson were pitched to the free-agent market's top center. But that's not all. Rockets small forward Chandler Parsons thinks the world may be overlooking another big player in the Howard sweepstakes: himself.
From Yahoo! Sports:
"I think I had a big impact," Parsons said at USA Basketball's mini-camp. "The first thing he said at the press conference was that, 'You guys should thank Chandler Parsons because he is a big reason why I am here.'
"Obviously, he loves the team, [general manager] Daryl Morey, coach [Kevin] McHale and all that. But I think I just gave him that comfort that you got one of your boys here who is also a key part to the team, a young guy. And we can grow on this for a long time."
As an Orlando native and former basketball player at Florida, Parsons met Howard during the center's years with the Orlando Magic. The relationship upgraded to friendship after Parsons hired agent Dan Fegan, who also represents Howard.
Parsons related to Yahoo! Sports how he recruited Howard during the summer:
"I spent a lot of time during the summer in L.A.," Parsons said. "We kind of just hit it off. We literally would text every day. He'd call me at 8 p.m. with a question and then he'd call me at midnight with the same question. I respect the way he handled [his free agency]. He took his time and weighed all his options.
"I was just that guy trying to make him feel as comfortable as possible. We have very similar personalities. We are both outgoing. We're always smiling. We like to have fun. I made him really comfortable that he was not only coming to a really good team, but a team with his friends on it."
Parsons said Howard began asking him questions about Houston and the Rockets during an agency dinner in Hollywood. Parsons used every chance he got to pitch him on the values of playing with himself and James Harden.
"I told him how good I thought we could be," Parsons said. "If you add him with me, James and Jeremy [Lin], Omer Asik … [and] what better coach to play for than a top-50 NBA player of all time in McHale? With "Dream" [Hakeem Olajuwon], Yao [Ming] and Ralph [Sampson] and all these centers that had success in Houston, I think it was a no-brainer for him."
Parsons told Yahoo! Sports he was confident he could help sway Howard to Houston during the summer.
"I said I was 95 percent sure he was coming," Parsons said. "I was comfortable enough and I could tell the way he was talking to me and how he was excited about things in Houston that I was sure he was going to come."
Parsons' final contribution was accompanying the large Rockets contingent that met with Howard in Los Angeles after free agency began, offering this advice:
From Yahoo! Sports:
"I told them what they needed to prepare for with the pitch," Parsons said. "I told them what he thought about our team and what his concerns were. I was in the middle of Dwight and the Rockets, just kind of bringing them together."The Rockets' approach worked, convincing Howard to take their four-year, $88 million deal while passing on offers from the Mavericks, Warriors and even the Lakers' offer of five years and $118 million.