Jason Terry: ‘My mission is to kill’ Heat, Lakers
|09.25.12 at 5:01 pm ET|
The way each member of the Celtics brass lobbied for Jason Terry in his foursome at the team’s annual charity golf outing (owners Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca won out, obviously), you wonder whether Doc Rivers & Co. lured Terry more for his ability to replace Ray Allen on the course rather than the court.
But really C’s president Danny Ainge sought Terry for three simple reasons: Scoring, scoring and more scoring.
“We wanted a scorer off the dribble,” said Rivers. “We do it every year right after the season: I always sit down and write Danny a long letter about needs, and that was my No. 1 need.”
So, Rivers knew exactly who to put on speed dial once NBA free agency began, and as Terry said, “When Doc calls, you answer.” The conversation probably went something like this: Your mission, Jason, should you choose to accept it, involves the recovery of a stagnant offense.
“My mission is to kill, whoever that is, whether it’s the Heat or whether it’s the Lakers — hopefully both,” said the 35-year-old Terry, “but that’s my mission, and that’s what I’m here to do.”
In 13 NBA seasons, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Terry has averaged 16.1 points while shooting 44.8 percent from the field, 38.0 percent from 3-point range and 88.3 percent from the free throw line in 33.5 minutes a night. In 11 of those seasons, his averages have fallen somewhere between 15.1 and 19.7 points in anywhere from 90 to 100 percent of his team’s games. In other words, he’s a consistent scorer. Mission accomplished.
Only Ainge and Rivers didn’t stop there. They added Courtney Lee to a group that now includes Terry, Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley, who’s expected to miss the start of the season (shoulders).
“Obviously, we won’t talk about him for a while, but when [Bradley] comes back I don’t know if anyone has a better guard corps than us, but we’re going to have to wait for that,” said Rivers. “In the meantime, we have those three guys that can all play multiple positions, which is great. I’ve always thought that would be the way I’d love to coach.”
No wonder Keyon Dooling retired at age 32. Dooling wasn’t starting over Rajon Rondo, who Ainge called “the best player on the team.” And he wasn’t playing over Bradley, Terry or Lee, either.
“Courtney is a good defender, and he can make open shots,” said Ainge. “He’s not as much of a creator [as Terry], but he’s a solid player, a solid guy that can make open shots and defend multiple positions. We really like both those guys. They’re great character guys, and hardworking players, and they’ll fit into our system wonderfully.”
So wonderfully that Ainge didn’t appear all that heartbroken that the C’s locker room will now feature another rookie instead of Dooling, a veteran presence whose role as vice president of the players union gave him a certain amount of cache — even on a team that already featured stars like Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
“We probably won’t be bringing anybody else in,” said Ainge. “We like our young guys. We like Kris Joseph and Dionte Christmas and Jamar Smith, and they’ll be competing for that last spot.”
A last guard spot that probably won’t translate into much more than garbage minutes once Rivers figures out how to split 96 minutes at the one and two between four guys capable of playing 30-35 valuable minutes a night. At least the Celtics coach doesn’t have to worry about that until Bradley returns. For the time being, starting Rondo and Lee while bringing Terry off the bench to spell both seems like the logical play.
“I started out as a starting point guard in this league, and I’ve been able to do that playing at a high level,” said Terry. “Whatever the team needs me to do. If they need me to jump center, I can do that, too. I’m just excited to be wearing Celtics green and to be a part of this organization, the franchise, the heritage. I’m ready to get going.”
“Jason gives us another playmaker,” added Ainge. “He is a shotmaker also, and he can play off the ball playing with Rondo, but he also can run pick and rolls, so he gives us another guy who can handle the ball.”
He can apparently play golf pretty well, too, so maybe they wanted more than his scoring after all.