Jason Terry said the draft-night trade for shooting guard Rudy Fernandez was not surprising news. However, if the acquisition means the loss of DeShawn Stevenson, Terry said that would be very unsettling news.
Terry, who fought along with Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki for Stevenson to start early in the season and then again prior to the playoffs, made a strong pitch for the team to re-sign Stevenson, an unrestricted free agent who no doubt increased his value with an impressively gritty postseason. Of course, with the lockout Terry hasn't been able to make his voice heard to management. It's not stopping him from campaigning.
"Oh, we got to get DeShawn back. Unless you can find another guy like DeShawn," Terry said. "DeShawn just has ‘it.’ Whatever that is, it’s special and I’m a guy that’s fighting for him to be back with the Mavericks."
Stevenson's value won't be found in his statistics. This is a guy who sat at the end of the bench when he arrived in February 2010 in a trade that also brought more prominent players Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood. Had Rodrigue Beaubois been healthy last season, Stevenson might never had gotten off the bench.
He averaged just 5.3 points in the regular season and less in the postseason, but he was a dead-eye from 3-point range, particularly in the Finals against the Heat. It was his tenacious postseason defense, however, against some of the league's top scorers that was immeasurably valuable, Terry said.
Terry had little problem describing Stevenson's "it" factor during a rather impassioned plea to keep the massively tattooed one in a Mavs uniform.
"What he did in this organization for us, you can’t put a price on it. Because me, watching the playoff series, not only the championship, but the first, second, third rounds, he defended his butt off and he set the tempo for us," Terry said. "That kind of toughness you can’t buy. It has to be in you. He’s one of the few guys in this league that has that and it’s special, it’s unique and I believe it’s at premium. And, I think it’s something that we have to have on our team going forward.
"Is Rudy Fernandez that type of player? Not that I know. He’s more offensive-minded. Is he tough? Yeah, he’s tough, but to guard Kobe [Bryant] and [Kevin] Durant and LeBron [James] and Dwyane Wade, you have to have a certain nastiness about you, and DeShawn Stevenson has that."
Currently, the Mavs have 16 players on their 15-man roster, including six free agents. President of basketball operations Donnie Nelson has said he'd like to re-sign them all. Unless the NBA expands rosters that won't happen. A new collective bargaining agreement with a revamped salary structure will first have to be in place to gauge what the market will bear for a veteran such as the rugged, 6-foot-5 Stevenson.
The key is issue for Dallas is just how many players it can carry at one position. The list of shooting guards is lengthy: Fernandez, Jason Terry, Rodrigue Beaubois, Dominique Jones, plus Stevenson. Corey Brewer is also an option.
The decision with Stevenson could also hinge on whether the Mavs re-sign small forward free agent Caron Butler, a similarly rugged defender obviously with far more offensive chops, as he returns from a major knee injury. If the tough-minded Butler goes elsewhere, Stevenson's value to the Mavs instantly increases.
"I’m confident in Donnie Jr., and Cubes [owner Mark Cuban] to put this thing back together," Terry said. "We know what pieces we need to go forward."
If Stevenson walks, someone will have to explain why to Jason Terry.