HANGTIME SOUTHWEST — Jason Terry won’t have to worry about finding a gig when his playing days are over. His former boss, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, said the Jet will always be welcome back.
As for that spot in the American Airlines Center rafters that Terry picked out for his No. 31 jersey to hang one day? Cuban’s good with that, too.
“We’ll deal with that,” Cuban said. “I’m not opposed to it, let’s put it that way.”
Which is more than can be said for the other Jason who left the Mavs last summer, but unlike Terry did so voluntary. Jason Kidd stunned Cuban when he reversed field on a three-year deal and made a mad dash for New York. Cuban viewed it sort of like the Colts hightailing it out of Baltimore under the cloak of darkness, and he’d later say that Kidd’s No. 2 won’t be under consideration for a rafter ceremony any time soon.
Terry dearly wanted to come back for a ninth season and more with the Mavs. His daughters attended the same school as Cuban’s and coach Rick Carlisle‘s kids and he’s beloved in the community. But Terry saw the writing on the wall with last season’s dismantled title team as Cuban made it clear his cap-clearing ways left little room for the 35-year-old Terry.
Jet signed a three-year, $15 million contract with the Boston Celtics, taking Ray Allen‘s spot on an aging team, but one still believed to be a threat to contend for the East crown.
“He knew what our plans were and we talked a lot. You have no idea how much we talked,” Cuban said. “He wanted to stay, but he understood what we were doing and where we were going. I would have liked for him to stay, but I understood what his goals were, so it just didn’t work out. But he’s always going to be special and hopefully when his career is over he’ll come back and work with us.”
Terry will get his first shot at Cuban and the Mavs tonight (8 ET, ESPN) in Beantown, not that he’ll recognize many of the players in blue.
“Definitely a different team, but same name,” Terry told reporters in Boston. “Carlisle is there, he’ll be on the sideline, so that’ll be emotional for me. I’ll go up, give him a good hug. I miss him, he’s definitely a good friend, one of the greatest coaches I’ve ever played for. But anything other than that, maybe if Tyson Chandler was over there, if Jason Kidd as over there, then it would be something extra special. But, honestly, it’s really not.
“Dirk’s not even in uniform, Shawn Marion (groin) might not be out there, so those are the guys I won a championship with and they’re not there.”
Anyway, Terry’s got his own issues with his new team.
Few would have figured that the Celtics (11-9) would come into this game with virtually the same record as the re-tooled Mavs (11-10), who continue to be without Terry’s old two-man partner, Dirk Nowtizki.
Terry has transitioned from Dallas’ sixth man to a Boston starter, but from the second scoring option with the Mavs to the fourth with the Celtics, and his sagging stats show it.
Terry is averaging 11.4 points and 8.7 shot attempts. Both numbers represent career lows since his rookie season with the Atlanta Hawks in 1999-2000. The last three seasons in Dallas, Terry averaged more than 13 shot attempts a game.
For a Celtics offense stuck in the middle of the pack, averaging less than 98 points a game, Terry might figure to get more looks, particularly tonight as he spreads his wings against his old team for the first time — even if it’s not quite the same and his future rafter-mate is wearing a sport coat instead of his No. 41.