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The Chandler Parsons vs. Harrison Barnes debate is over

Once a hotly contested off-season discussion, Parsons latest injury woes means the Mavs bet on the right horse.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s cut to the chase:

Chandler Parsons will end his third consecutive season early with a knee injury and potentially a knee surgery. In 2015, it was a hybrid micro-fracture. In 2016 it was a meniscus tear. This season, it appears to be a similar injury.

It’s no secret — here at Mavs Moneyball, we were more in the tank for Parsons than sports bloggers are in for The Bachelor. Our staff was in near-unanimous decision that the Mavs needed to bring Parsons back as one of the few high-value assets they had acquired since blowing up the title team.

No need to go through it all over again. Parsons was supposed to be the link to the Mavs nearing a Dirk-less future and he had a game at a size that was rare across the league. There are not a lot of 6’10 forwards that could do the things Parsons could do.

In the end, we were flat wrong. Harrison Barnes has been a revelation, with career-high production and higher usage.

Mavs head athletic trainer Casey Smith deserves a lifetime contract. Not only did the Mavs dodge an injury bullet with Parsons, but they did it again back when Andrew Bynum was on the market (after they failed to reel in Dwight Howard). They also came out on top when Smith vouched for Tyson Chandler’s health in the summer of 2010 after spending time with him on the Olympic team. The Mavs track record when making deals with injured players is extremely strong and Smith has a lot to do with that.

While I’m sure some of the more -- ahem -- less-tactful Mavs fans will high-five and soak in the supposed validation of their hot Parsons takes (“He’s a playboy!” “He doesn’t work hard!” “Overpaid diva!”), this is really sad. Parsons posted some incredible numbers after working his way back last season — in January and February of that season he was over 50 percent from the floor, over 40 percent from three and averaged almost three assists per game. He was really showing a future where the Mavs could build around his versatile offensive skill-set.

Now, will he ever play a full season healthy again? Parsons hasn’t proven he can defeat the injury bug in three straight seasons, and knee injuries are not something you want to pile up like punches on a sandwich shop punch card.

The Mavericks future would be tied down to an anchor for the next three to four years if Parsons were on the roster.

Even if Barnes were just an average or slightly below-average player, he’d still be a better deal. What you can do trumps what you could do, especially when it comes down to health. Barnes might not ever get better than he is right now, but he’ll give you 80 to 82 games of 20 points a night. You can count on that. Barnes is a real thing, Parsons is sadly still an idea.

It sucks. Regardless of your feelings on Parsons outside of the court and the wild stories that have been shared, he was a good player and more importantly a good player who wanted to come to Dallas. Parsons is still the biggest and best free-agent acquisition the Mavs have had since they disbanded the title team and hell, he’ll probably still be that after the next couple years as the Mavs transition from chasing stars and grow their young roster with draft picks.

Parsons put the Mavs back on the map after an ugly set of seasons after the title win in 2011. He gave the fan base a shot of energy it desperately needed and a future they’ve always wanted. Now he’s staring down the barrel of three knee surgeries in three years.

Life comes at you fast, especially in the NBA.