There’s always been a rivalry between the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks, simply because they are both in the state of Texas, but with the success of the San Antonio Spurs, both teams usually wind up competing for second best, if anything. But that may change this year in light of the events that transpired as a result of Chandler Parsons’ contract. Parsons was of course signed to a max contract by Dallas after the Rockets left Parsons available as they attempted to add a third star, ultimately deciding to let Parsons go. In an interview he stated that he felt slighted by the Rockets, insulted by their perceived need to upgrade when he was fully capable of performing at a high level. It didn’t end there, as both Dwight Howard and James Harden basically threw Parsons under a bus, indirectly stating that they didn’t need him, and that the team wouldn’t miss a beat.

dhNow, if Harden and Howard are able to take their games to another level, along side Patrick Beverley at the point, newcomer Trevor Ariza at the wing, and second-year Terrance Jones at the four spot, they could still be one of the top four teams in the West. However, they may have to look over their shoulder soon, because Mark Cuban has transformed Dallas’ roster significantly around Dirk Nowitzki, and Parsons might be the final piece to put it over the top. Monta Ellis had a renaissance season last year, as did Devin Harris, both of who will return, and Tyson Chandler hopes to rediscover the game that led him to be the force he was when the Mavericks won their last championship. While they did lose Vince Carter and Shawn Marion, while being forced to void Rashard Lewis’ contract after a failed physical, they were able to add low-cost veterans in Jameer Nelson and well-traveled Richard Jefferson to replace them.

Parsons may not be a superstar, but around his new roster, he has the opportunity to be the third star Houston didn’t believe him capable of being. His points scored has gone up each of his three seasons, he is a high energy player on both ends of the floor, and his shooting should only get better, despite taking a slight step back this past season. Adding him to Ellis and Nowitzki makes a threesome that stacks up well, on paper, against Harden, Howard, and Ariza, and the supporting cast might be deeper than a Rockets team counting on young, inexperienced players fill out a roster that became thin once they were unable to add a big name, and had to settle for Ariza after missing out on Chris Bosh, Pau Gasol, and Carmelo Anthony.

If it truly is all about star power in the NBA, than Houston should still have no problem handling the retooled Mavericks team. But Nowitzki has arguably the best roster he’s had to work with since 2011, and if Parsons continues his develop, Dirk now has two solid scoring options to play off of and spread the ball around. Chandler probably won’t win the battle against Dwight in the middle, but if he’s the pre-Knicks Chandler, then Dallas couldn’t have found a better option to help limit the inside presence. And if the Rockets younger players such as Isaiah Canaan, Donatas Motiejunas, Troy Daniels, Scotty Hopson, and Nick Johnson don’t provide solid support of the bench, Dallas’s depth might very well be what puts them over the top. Expect Parsons to lead the way though, while most players decline after signing a big contract, they don’t all get pushed out the door and deemed secondary to the “real” stars. This time next season we might be calling Parsons the real star of this new rivalry.

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