On Dec. 14, 2014, I picked up tacos on the way home from the gym. I was sitting in my car, listening to the end of a radio segment, when news broke that Rajon Rondo would become a Maverick.
There were people who loved it from the moment it happened, and some precognizant people who hated it. Like most things in life, opinions mostly fell in the middle. Only a few people were convinced that this move would make this team good enough to compete with the NBA's elite squads, but hey, it couldn't hurt, right?
The Mavericks' front office -- Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson -- must have had the same mindset. Rick Carlisle, for one, did not think it would work. But all three knew that the early season team in 2014-15, a fun-loving, high-flying offense with fewer defensive chops than a hibernating bear, wasn't going anywhere either. I like to think that Cubes and Donnie looked at each other, even as Carlisle silently shook his head, and said, "Hey, it couldn't hurt, right?"
It did hurt. More importantly, it's still hurting. One year and four months after the trade, and the Mavericks are floundering with Chandler Parsons out for the season with a meniscus tear. If it's any consolation, when I finally dug into those tacos two hours after worrying about our trade coverage, they were A-plus.
Now without Parsons for the rest of the year, the Mavericks can't do anything but keep pushing for that playoff spot. They have the slightest of leads on the Utah Jazz and could take a tiebreaker against Portland with a win on Wednesday. Parsons is crucial to the team, but there's a plan on how they can succeed without him. Beat Portland once more and go .500 down the stretch, and that might just be enough.
If the Mavericks still had their first round pick, though, the situation would be so much less perilous. A late lottery pick is incredibly useful, a way to add one more talented player to the post-Dirk era, which is rushing up all too quickly. But Dallas shipped this year's pick away in the Rondo trade. (It's top-seven protected, but you can't count on them getting lucky like that.)
Also sent away in the deal were Jae Crowder and Brandan Wright. Mark Cuban claims Crowder wouldn't have turned into the player he has been in Boston while playing for the Mavericks, but there's just no way that's true. Maybe it wouldn't have happened in the 2014-15 season, when Crowder had been on the fringes of the rotation, but don't you remember how much Richard Jefferson ended up playing? With the injuries and minutes restrictions to Parsons and Wesley Matthews to begin this year, Crowder could have easily got the chances he needed to shine.
Wright has been injured almost all season, like many of Memphis' players. Perhaps that would have been the same this season in Dallas, perhaps not. Either way, his incredible efficiency around the basket is something the Mavericks missed nearly all season before David Lee came along.
There's some hope that Dwight Powell could become a quality bench player should he develop a three-point shot (or, really, any shot -- he's shooting 28 percent beyond five feet this year), but as the Mavericks play without Parsons, Powell still can't even get on the floor.
We've been over the Rajon Rondo part of the Rondo trade a hundred times. Obviously, Rondo himself was a complete disaster, and there's no need to dive back into just how bad he played for Dallas. But what the Mavericks gave up is still painful. If they miss the playoffs and don't even have a first round pick to show for it, that would be another nut punch from the Rondo deal after two or three have already been delivered.
Coughing up a first round pick would never have been easy to stomach, but one in the late 20s was reasonable at least. Giving up the No. 12 or 13 pick to Boston? That will be torture. Chandler Parsons' injury only reinforces that Rondo wasn't just a bad trade, but a real contender as the worst deal in franchise history.