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Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Jason Terry's on the runway as an era ends

By Jeff Caplan



Eight eventful seasons, two NBA Finals appearances and one bold championship run that culminated with an in-your-face barrage against LeBron James will forever solidify Jason Terry as a Dallas Mavericks legend.

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Jason Terry appears to be headed to the Boston Celtics unless the Mavericks match the offer. Coop and Nate weigh in.

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And if he's to win a second title, Terry will have to go through James again, but this time in another Eastern Conference showdown between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics.

Terry's productive and always entertaining run with the Mavs is over. He is close to agreeing to a three-year deal with the Celtics for the full midlevel exception starting at $5 million next season, according to a source close to the situation. He vowed to give the Mavs a chance to match, but sources say they are unlikely to do so, being more concerned with clearing cap space. Dallas remains on edge as it waits for Deron Williams to decide between a homecoming or re-signing with the Brooklyn Nets.

A second source said that Terry made his decision to join the Celtics with no knowledge of Williams' plans. If Williams were to agree to join the Mavs with Terry still on the market, it would have been highly unlikely that Dallas would have re-signed him. Either way Williams goes now, Terry appears headed for the parquet.

Terry will turn 35 in September and will leave behind one Geritol gang in Dallas for another in Boston, headed by the re-upped Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, who -- ironically -- for years was debated as the pick the Mavs should have made in the 1998 draft instead of trading for Dirk Nowitzki.

Terry, the 2009 Sixth Man of the Year and fourth on the NBA's all-time 3-pointers made list, gives Boston a legitimate offensive weapon off the bench as the Mavs lose one of the most charismatic, outspoken and beloved players to ever suit up in Dallas.

He could join the all-time 3-point leader, Ray Allen. The Celtics remain interested in re-signing, but Allen has scheduled visits with several teams.

For Nowitzki, free agency has again turned personal. Eight years ago, Nash, his best friend, walked out the door for Phoenix. Now, the only other remaining player from the 2006 Finals collapse and the heartache that followed is about to leave.

"Jet and myself and this franchise, we’ve been through a lot together, some great downs, but also obviously one of the greatest ups ever in our careers and lives with winning the championship and he was a big part of that," Nowitzki said Saturday as free agency began. "I never thought either me or him would wear another uniform in our careers, but if it comes down to it, we all understand it’s a business and if it comes to it, then it’s going to be tough, but we've got to move on.

"Shoot, I lost Steve who was one of my closest friends ever, not only in basketball, and I lost him six or seven years ago and life went on, and we still found a way to win a championship. If that’s what happens with Jet, we’ve got to find a way to move on and wish him luck."

While contracts can't be signed until July 11, it certainly appears it has happened.