Countdown: No. 5 Jason Terry
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And, dare we say, it's now coming to an end?
Hours before the coming finality of Game 4 in the first-round sweep to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Terry made a statement that now also seems appropriate for his situation as he stares into the uncertainty of unrestricted free agency for the first time in his 13-year career.
"Life is not always going to go the way you want it to," Terry said. "And so in that instance you have to make the adjustments and ride it out and see what happens."
And that's what he'll do. It's all he can do. He doesn't want to leave the team with which he built a brand name and won a championship, but he will if he must.
It seems his best chance of returning to the Mavs for a ninth season would, ironically, be a worst-case situation for Dallas, meaning whiffing on Deron Williams in July. If Williams joins his hometown Mavericks on a max deal, then there simply won't be room to squeeze in Terry and a price he'll command.
No Williams, however, and Dallas will have loads of cap space and a wide-open roster to fill.
Terry will turn 35 before he reports to someone's training camp in October. How much is the Jet, a career 38-percent 3-point shooter (and fourth in league history in 3-pointers made) and one of the game's most fearless fourth-quarter scorers worth on the open market? How many years is a team willing to go?
Dirk Nowitzki's (mostly) trusted sidekick, the position they've seemingly tried to fill with a superstar for years and will try again this offseason.
Terry never made any All-Star teams or All-NBA squads -- only a Sixth Man of the Year trophy to his name -- but for four consecutive seasons and five times in his eight seasons in Dallas, Terry has finished as the Mavs' second-leading scorer. He's poured in 9,953 points wearing a Mavs uniform and another 1,466 in the postseason -- none more important or gratifying than the 27 he threw down the throats of the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
So if the Mavs are truly prepared to enter the 2012-13 season without the familiar Jet on the runway, they will be losing a piece of the fabric of the most successful era in Mavs history -- and leaving Nowitzki as the last piece standing.
The Countdown goes emotional with No. 5 ...
Ht./Wt.: 6-foot-2, 185
Experience: 13 years
Age: 34 (Sept. 15, 1977)
2011-12 stats: 15.1 ppg (43.0 FG%, 37.8 3FG%), 3.6 apg, 31.7 mpg
Contract status: Unrestricted free agent
2011-12 salary: $11.2 million
2012-13 salary: TBD
His story: If the Jet is on his way out, he certainly didn't go out quietly. Always a quality interview for his often funny, brash, silly or even ridiculous commentary, Terry spent the season talking about "ctc" as in "cut the check" on his next contract. He talked about being on a job interview every time he stepped on the floor, and he topped it all by saying he'd love to help the hated Miami Heat next season. Once the Mavs were swept out of the playoffs, Terry reiterated statements from early on that management's decision to break up the title team meant they were all along looking beyond a chance to repeat for a chance to land a big free agent this summer. "Yeah, he (owner Mark Cuban) knows it, the city knows, we all know it as players."
His outlook: Little more can be said. Whether he returns to Dallas next season or not, Terry still hopes his No. 31 will one day be raised to the American Airlines Center rafters.
No. 15 Lamar Odom
No. 14 Brian Cardinal
No. 13 Yi Jianlian
No. 12 Dominique Jones
No. 11 Brendan Haywood
No. 10 Kelenna Azubuike
No. 9 Ian Mahinmi
No. 8 Vince Carter
No. 7 Rodrigue Beaubois
No. 6 Brandan Wright
No. 5 Jason Terry
No. 4 Coming Tuesday
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