Mar 17, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons (25) attempts to drive the ball around Utah Jazz guard Gordon Hayward (20) during the first quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

A Backup Plan for the Chicago Bulls: Gordon Hayward vs. Chandler Parsons

Much of the recent offseason talk concerning the Chicago Bulls has been centered around Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love, and, with them being big-name players, that’s completely understandable. But, if the summer of 2010 taught the Bulls anything, it’s that there’s no guarantee they’ll land the superstar players. Right now, there’s still the possibility that Anthony won’t be a free agent once free agency officially begins. He’s expected to opt out of his current contract to become an unrestricted free agent, but, according to Scott Cacciola of the New York Times, New York Knicks president Phil Jackson recently offered Anthony an alternative to that.

Anthony has maintained for months that he intends to opt out of his contract with the Knicks this summer so he can explore his options as a free agent. But Jackson, the team’s new president, said he recently presented Anthony with another path: Why not stick it out for one more season and see how it goes? In other words, opt in rather than opt out.

As for Love, the only way Chicago would be able to attain him would be through a trade, but it’s unclear as to what and how much Minnesota would want in return for him; however, the Bulls have reportedly made an offer for Love already according to ESPN Boston’s Jackie MacMullan.

The Timberwolves privately maintain they already have fielded better offers from other teams, among them the Chicago Bulls, who can offer draft picks and some combination of Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson along with Carlos Boozer, whose bloated $16.8 million contract expires next summer and represents the kind of cap space rebuilding teams crave.

It’s definitely still possible that the Bulls can land either Anthony or Love, but there should be a backup if their quest for a superstar ends in failure. Two players the Bulls should definitely keep an eye on are Gordon Hayward and Chandler Parsons. Hayward is set to become an restricted free agent after contract negotiations with the Utah Jazz fell apart earlier this past season. Parsons is also set to become a restricted free agent, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports recently reported.

The Houston Rockets plan to decline the fourth-year option on forward Chandler Parsons’ contract, freeing him to become a restricted free agent this summer, league sources told Yahoo Sports. The Rockets hold a $960,000 option on the fourth and final year of Parsons’ contract for the 2014-’15 season, but want to avoid letting Parsons, 25, become an unrestricted free agent next summer. As a restricted free agent in July, the Rockets can match an offer sheet and retain Parsons on a long-term contract. The Rockets have until June 30 to formally decline the option.

Both Hayward and Parsons would be excellent additions to the roster if all else fails. The thing is, though, there’s no need for the both of them, so the question that remains is which one would be the better addition?

The Basics

Hayward is a 6-foot-8, 207-pound swingman from Brownsburg, Ind. He attended Butler University, where he led his team to a second-place finish at the 2010 NCAA National Championship as a sophomore. Following that, Hayward was taken by the Utah Jazz with the No. 9 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. He turned 24 years old this past March, just completed his fourth season in the league and has played in four playoff games.

Parsons is a 6-foot-9, 200-pound small forward from Winter Park, Fla. He attended the University of Florida, where he stayed all four years. In his final season as a Gator, Parsons was named the SEC Player of the Year. He was then drafted No. 38 in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft, but was unable to make his NBA debut until Dec. 29, 2011 due to the NBA lockout. Parsons waited out the NBA season in France playing for Cholet Basket. He is now 25 years old (he’ll be 26 at the start of the 2014-15 season), just completed his third season in the league and has played in 12 playoff games.

Regular Season Averages

Hayward was the standard starting shooting guard for the first time in his now four-year career. He played and started in 77 games and averaged 16.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.4 steals in 36.4 minutes of playing time. The increase in minutes gave way to Hayward’s career-best season performance wise.

Parsons was the starting small forward for his team, during which  played and started in 74 regular season games. During that time span, the former Florida Gator averaged 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1. 2 steals while playing 37.6 minutes. Those were also the best numbers Parsons has put up in his now three-year career.

In terms of production, Hayward and Parsons are pretty equal with the only real significant difference being the variation in assists, but even that isn’t as hefty as it could be.

Shooting Efficiency

Hayward and Parsons are both versatile scorers and have shown an ability to succeed as jump shooters. When examining their shooting efficiency, however, Parsons has a significant advantage.

Over the course of the regular season, Parsons attempted 987 field goals and connected on 47.2 percent of them. From behind the arc, he shot 37.0 percent on 351 attempts. His 3-point field goal percentage is pretty decent, but it’s nothing to be in awe about. Even so, Parsons did set the record for the most 3-pointers in a half on Jan. 24 after hitting 10 3-pointers. His overall field goal percentage is just as, if not more, impressive, as he shot 47.2 percent in the regular season, which was sixth best among all small forwards.

As for Hayward, his shooting numbers this past season were actually the worst of his career thus far. He shot 41.3 percent from the field and 30.4 percent from behind the arc. It is likely, though, that this is due to not only the massive increase in minutes he faced (he went from playing a total of 2,104 minutes in the 2012-13 season to 2,800 minutes this past season), but he was also the primary scoring option for the struggling Jazz team he was a member of.


As aforementioned, Hayward and Parsons are both versatile scorers. They’re capable of scoring on mid-range jumpers, 3-pointers and at the rim well, and they can both be aggressive offensive players. They also can create their own shots, but Hayward has the advantage in that area. Parsons doesn’t create his own offense as well or as often as Hayward has, and, on the Bulls, being able to create one’s own shot could definitely come in handy. There would be no need to rely on Derrick Rose or even Joakim Noah to make the plays and takes some pressure off of them.

Hayward also has the upper-hand as a playmaker as well, though him and Parsons are both willing passers. As seen from their regular season averages, Hayward averaged 1.2 more assists than Parsons did, and he even led Utah in assists. He ousted rookie point guard Trey Burke’s 396 with his 400 total assists for the year. To be fair, though, the Jazz relied on Hayward more than the Rockets relied on Parsons, so that may explain the difference; however, Hayward still has more experience with playmaking, and, along with the playmaking, Hayward also has better ball-handling skills.


Neither Hayward nor Parsons are exceptional at defense, but they’re not terrible defenders. They’re both good, but  Hayward has the edge with 1.43 steals per game, which is 27th best in the league, while Parsons averaged 1.2 steals. Still, that doesn’t necessarily speaks volumes as to him being better defensively.

Either way, they both defend well enough to fit on the Bulls. Hayward and Parsons are both long and athletic, so that definitely helps on the defensive end. But, really, it won’t matter how well they do or do not defend if they don’t buy into head coach Tom Thibodeau’s defensive philosophy.

Yes, it certainly helps if a player defends well. Just think back on Taj Gibson versus Carlos Boozer and how defense decided their situation of the closing power forward. But, looking back at Kyle Korver’s time in Chicago, he wasn’t at all an elite defender, albeit he didn’t turn out to be a bad one; however, he bought into Thibodeau’s philosophy and was able to succeed as a solid team defender.


Both Hayward and Parsons have a lot to offer, especially offensively speaking. Hayward’s efficiency took a hit with an increase in playing time, but he still posted career highs in points, rebounds, assists and steals in his first season as a true starter. Parsons’ role decreased with the arrival of Dwight Howard, but he still found a way to improve upon the prior season as Houston’s third option.

The Conclusion

Honestly, I’d love to have either Hayward or Parsons on the Bulls, since they are two of my favorite players. But, putting aside my personal feelings, Hayward is the better option. He’s a more all-around player than Parsons. He can solve some of Chicago’s scoring problems, can create for himself and others, has more experience and is the younger player. It’s still important to keep in mind that these two will be restricted free agents, as opposed to unrestricted ones, but they’re still worth a shot.

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Tags: Chandler Parsons Chicago Bulls Free Agency Free Agents Gordon Hayward NBA Free Agency

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