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VOL. 131 | NO. 194 | Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Parsons ‘Progressing’ in Knee Surgery Rehab, But May Not be Ready for Season’s Start

By Don Wade

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Coming back from knee surgery isn’t new to Chandler Parson. The biggest free agent signing in Grizzlies history has been there, rehabbed that before.

The Memphis Grizzlies signed sharpshooting free agent forward Chandler Parsons to a four-year, $94 million contract this summer. But Parsons’ Grizzlies debut may be delayed as he continues to work back into form from his second knee surgery.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

“Coming off two knee surgeries, the training staff has developed a program to be more on the cautious side,” Parsons said at the team’s annual pre-training camp media day on Monday, Sept. 26. “At the same time, every day they’re working to get me strong, working on flexibility, range of motion, from my hips to my back to my feet to everything that ties in with the knee.”

Parsons is not taking any contact or playing any 5-on-5 yet. He is getting tested weekly and says he has been pain-free and without any setbacks.

“It’s tough to say a timeline,” Parsons said. “My goal is to play as soon as possible.”

But it doesn’t seem likely to be on opening night of the regular season. General Manager Chris Wallace said Parsons was “progressing,” but also wouldn’t commit to when he thought the sharpshooting forward would make his Grizzlies debut.

“We signed Chandler for the whole contract,” Wallace said, referring to the four-year $94 million deal. “We didn’t have any expectation for what day he would be fully ready to play. We liked the player.”

Said Parsons: “Obviously, it’s a big-picture thing. I want to finish the season strong, not just start it strong.”

Parsons is shooting the ball, doing a little jumping and defensive shuffles.

“Learning from the last rehab,” he said. “I don’t want to rush in. You gotta be smart about it.”

Which isn’t to say there were mistakes made last go-round, but the Dallas Mavericks chose not to commit to Parsons after he hurt his knee a second time.

“Dallas moved on and I think it’s best for the both of us,” Parsons said. “I have no hard feelings.”

Parsons says he can’t pinpoint anything that happened during the first rehab that might have led to the re-injury of his knee.

“I felt great,” he said. “I didn’t have any pain, any setbacks. Last season, for three months, I played the best basketball of my career. Felt the best I ever had. Missing the playoffs really bothered me; that I wasn’t able to play with the guys. I don’t think I did anything wrong last time. It’s just injuries happen and they’re unfortunate.”

Two former University of Memphis players are on the training camp roster: Swingman D.J. Stephens, who has some limited NBA time, and guard Chris Crawford. Stephens made an impression in the summer. Crawford was just added to the roster a few days ago and is an extreme long shot to stick.

Stephens, however, may have an opportunity to force his way onto the final 15-man roster.

“He’s like my little brother, a lot of love for him,” Stephens said of Crawford. “It’s a little odd, competing against one another for a job.”

But business is business and Stephens is taking a professional approach to the chance before him.

“I’m just trying to enjoy the experience, taking it day by day, try to prove that I belong here,” he said. “Because it’s been a long time coming. I’ve had an interesting journey to get to this point. But for me to be here with the Grizzlies, there’s not a better feeling.

“I’ve grown a lot up to this point, but one of the things I’ve learned is it’s not always as easy as you being good enough. But a lot of it is timing and the opportunity you’re given. If it’s meant for you to be somewhere, you’ll get there.”

Tony Allen learned that point guard Mike Conley had re-signed with Memphis on a record $153 million long-term deal when he saw the news roll by on the bottom of his TV screen.

“I said, `Wow,’” Allen said. “But I’m glad it happened.”

Center Marc Gasol left no doubt to how the team is thinking heading into the season, aiming for a seventh straight playoff appearance: “We’ve got one more thing to do and that’s try to win a championship. We’re opening talking about that and we’re all in for that.”

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