“I am extremely disappointed that I didn’t get to finish this season alongside my teammates and the Memphis coaching staff,” Parsons told ESPN in a statement. “Unfortunately that option wasn’t presented to me.
“The Grizzlies training staff medically cleared me to play 5-on-5 in mid-December and I have been practicing with the team ever since. I will continue to work out and train until my agent and the team reach a resolution. I am ready to play and committed to getting back on the court.”
Parsons — who is guaranteed $38 million in salary through the 2019-20 season — left the Grizzlies on Sunday to continue working out on his own in California. The Grizzlies and Parsons couldn’t agree on a G League assignment plan that would assure Parsons of his return to the active NBA roster this season.
The sides will work to find a trade for Parsons, sources said.
Once Parsons didn’t go to the G League, Memphis preferred the forward — who has has not played since exiting the Grizzlies’ third game of the season while recovering from his latest setback, centered around his left knee — leave the team instead of continuing to practice and prepare for a return to the lineup.
Parsons had hoped to stay with the Grizzlies and continue practicing with the team, even if the organization chose not to activate him for games. Once the sides couldn’t agree on a G League assignment plan, the organization preferred that Parsons leave the team until a resolution on his future could be worked out with his agent, James Dunleavy of Independent Sports Entertainment.
Parsons is owed the full $38 million on his original four-year, $94 million maximum contract, including $25.1 million for the 2019-20 season.
The Grizzlies’ haven’t shown a willingness to include a first-round draft pick to move Parsons’ deal but have been open to accepting a longer-term contract for him, league sources said.
The team still believes Parsons will have value as an expiring contract, even if it takes into the offseason to make a deal.
Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace said the team gave Chandler multiple options concerning his rehab.
“We met with Chandler and spoke with him and his representation numerous times during his rehab process, laying out a number of options to help integrate a healthy and effective Chandler back on to the floor,” Wallace wrote in a statement on Sunday night. “In the last of these conversations, we presented Chandler clear options for him and his representatives to choose, which included a short three-home-game stint for the Memphis Hustle or rehab either in Memphis or in Los Angeles with the training team of his choice. Chandler subsequently chose to continue his rehab in Los Angeles.”
Parsons has been willing to play games with G League affiliate the Memphis Hustle but wanted a clearer plan and a timetable in place that would return him to the Grizzlies’ active roster, league sources said. Trips to the G League for veterans are traditionally treated as rehab assignments, not tryouts.
Parsons earned a starting job out of training camp this fall and hoped to rejoin the struggling Grizzlies’ rotation weeks ago. Memphis has lost 12 of 15 games after a strong start, falling to 18-21 overall.
Parsons’ troublesome left knee has been medically cleared for him to return to play since Dec. 21. Based on discussions with the Memphis medical staff, Parsons expected to return for a road game in Sacramento that day. He has instead been scrimmaging 5-on-5 with the team in recent weeks to prove his readiness, and he made a positive impression on the coaching staff and teammates with his ability to still contribute offensively, sources said.
Management still had questions about him defensively and wanted to see him in live action with the Hustle, though Parsons had been pleading with Wallace to let him return to game action.
“Let me play!” Parsons shouted at Wallace several times after hitting 3-pointers during a scrimmage, sources said.
Parsons has been limited to 73 games, primarily because of knee problems, since signing with the Grizzlies in the summer of 2016. He has averaged seven points in 19.3 minutes per game for the Grizzlies.
Parsons had season-ending surgery on his right knee in the previous two years before he came to Memphis, prompting the Dallas Mavericks to decide not to attempt to re-sign him. Parsons then had season-ending surgery on his left knee in the spring of 2017, his first year in Memphis.
ESPN’s Tim MacMahon contributed to this report.