Rick Carlisle gave us a nasty dose of reality last month.
He said what no Mavericks fan, player, executive or owner wants to hear about their trip to Chicago for Tuesday's NBA draft lottery.
Buckle up, folks. This could be an annual affair.
Carlisle is one of the few in the organization willing to acknowledge that this rebuilding process isn't going to be anywhere close to finished after Tuesday night, even if they do get lucky and jump to the No. 1 overall pick.
Deandre Ayton may end up being the next Karl-Anthony Towns, but even at that, it wasn't until Towns' third season that the Minnesota Timberwolves got to the playoffs and avoided a seat at the kid's table that is the draft lottery.
So there are no assurances that the Mavericks won't be right back here again next May.
"We want to get through this as expeditiously as possible, but there's no way you can skip steps," Carlisle said. "Things don't happen overnight and they don't just happen without some turbulence and without some upheaval. We've been through that for a couple years now.
"Unfortunately, at times, you have to get really bad to get really good again."
The NBA landscape is littered with teams that languished in the lottery far longer than they would have liked. Minnesota missed the playoffs for 13 years in a row before making it this season.
Philadelphia was in the lottery for five seasons and had four top-three draft picks, including the No. 1 overall pick twice, before becoming playoff-worthy.
The Mavericks are only two seasons into their lottery run.
This is not the kind of stage owner Mark Cuban likes being on.
But you can only turn things around so fast. It would help immensely if Lady Luck would be kind to the Mavericks when the lottery balls get tangled up in that machine. The Mavericks have a 13.8-percent chance at the No. 1 pick and about a 43-percent chance of finishing in the top three.
That means the chances are better that they will finish fourth (23.8 percent) or fifth (29 percent). They have only a 4.5-percent chance of finishing sixth – their lowest possible spot in the draft order.
Charged with representing the Mavericks is a small army of staffers led by assistant vice president of basketball operations Michael Finley and assistant general manager Keith Grant.
Also in the traveling party: Neil Herskowitz, the double-lung transplant survivor who was the designated good luck charm last season at the lottery. It worked, sort of, as they did not fall any lower than where they were supposed to pick, which was ninth.
"Hopefully, his luck is better than mine," president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said. "At least we didn't move backwards (last year). I held serve."
This year, Finley – a Chicago native – will be the main representative, which coincides with his rise up the Mavericks' front office ladder.
Nelson has known Finley since both were in Phoenix for Finley's rookie season. Nelson helped bring Finley to the Mavericks, where he partnered with Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki until leaving the franchise via the amnesty clause in 2005.
He came back to join the front office after his playing career was over.
"Since he's joined us, he's had an increasingly dominant role and that is something that has been critical to the success we've had – not this year, but before," Nelson said. "And it will be critical to the success we'll have in the future."
Finley will be joined at the lottery by his family, including his mother, Bertha, although Finley is expected to be the only one on the stage during the televised portion of the lottery.