Jason Terry wants to retire as a Mav
DALLAS -- Jason Terry, in the midst of a redemptive postseason that has helped move the Dallas Mavericks one win from a second-round sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers, said Saturday that he wants to retire with the Mavericks, the team he joined in 2004 as Steve Nash's replacement.
The 12th-year shooting guard has one season remaining on the six-year, $57 million free-agent contract he signed in 2006, just weeks after the Mavs melted down and lost a 2-0 lead to the Miami Heat in the franchise's infamous first NBA Finals appearance.
This season Terry easily reached a minutes-played clause in his contract that fully guarantees his final season at $10.7 million. Entering the postseason, speculation revolved around Terry possibly being shopped during the offseason if his downward trend in the playoffs continued.
Terry, 33, said this poised and productive playoff run -- coming off an emotionally off-kilter end to the regular season -- has been fueled by his passion to overcome past failures and to ensure his longevity in Dallas. Terry has emerged as the Mavs' much-needed second-leading scorer, averaging 16.8 points on 49.1 percent shooting, behind superstar Dirk Nowitzki.
"No question. That's definitely even more a part of the motivation knowing that I want to be here in Dallas. I want to retire here," Terry said. "I want to be up there next to Brad Davis and Dirk [Nowitzki] and Rolando [Blackman] when it's all said and done."
Davis and Blackman have both had their numbers retired, and Nowitzki, a sure Hall-of-Famer, will certainly have his jersey raised to the rafters.
Told of Terry's desire, Mavs president Donnie Nelson said, "The feeling's mutual."
"He's the life of the party in that locker room," Nelson said. "He's got an edge to him that people don't understand how competitive he is because I think when he does interviews he is so engaging and he's got an incredible sense of humor. But, when he steps on that floor he is all business."
Terry certainly has been focused this postseason. Against the Lakers, he is shooting 50.0 percent from the floor and 44.4 percent from 3-point range while averaging 15.7 points. His four games of at least 20 points through nine playoff games matches his total from his previous 27 playoff games dating back to 2007.
He shot under 40 percent from the field in the past two postseasons, subpar and personally painful performances that Terry did not hide from then or now.
"It's all about what's transpired over the last two or three years, me shouldering a lot of the blame for our failures," Terry said. "I'm one of the leaders of this team and this franchise. I've been here, the second-longest tenured guy, and the Dallas fans, they believe in me so much that I take it personally when I go out there every time on the court."
Terry and Nowitzki are the lone remaining members of the '06 team. They have since suffered three first-round exits in the previous four seasons, once as the No. 1 seed and again as the No. 2 seed.
If they finish off the Lakers -- a scenario few experts and analysts projected -- Nowitzki, who is averaging 27.6 points in the playoffs, and the typically offensive-minded Terry, who has received praise from coach Rick Carlisle for his ramped-up defensive posture, will guide Dallas to its first Western Conference final since '06.
"The emphasis for Jet has been on consistent, all-around play, not just scoring, but playmaking," Carlisle said. "Not just getting steals, but playing solid defense; not just being a fourth-quarter scorer, but being an all-around player for 34 to 38 minutes. He's done that and we need him to continue to do it."
Terry scored 23 points in Friday's 98-92 victory, hitting a key 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter that has the Mavs leading 3-0 in the series. He has outplayed Lakers forward Lamar Odom, the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year, an award Terry vowed to reclaim this season after winning it in 2009, but he finished second in the voting for the second consecutive season.
"Jet knows he's a big part of what we're doing," Nowitzki said. "He's been in a good rhythm, but I just love his intensity. Sometimes we all know he waits until the fourth quarter, but lately he's been attacking."
Jeff Caplan covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com.