Commentary

He's a man on a mission

Celtic Jason Terry is doing (& saying) everything right to endear himself here

Updated: September 26, 2012, 5:26 PM ET
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com

BOLTON, Mass. -- Do you think Jason Terry is going to fit in around here?

The 13-year veteran hasn't even formally slipped on his new No. 4 Boston Celtics jersey, but he's already endeared himself to the fan base by (in no particular order): tattooing a leprechaun on his bicep next to the Larry O'Brien trophy; mentoring Boston's crop of young guards; hanging out with the Sausage King outside Fenway Park; diving headfirst into charity events in the community; and promising to be exactly the bench scorer the team has so desperately lacked in recent seasons.

And just in case there was anyone in the region reluctant to hop on the JET bandwagon, he casually suggested Tuesday that he's here with the singular goal of erasing Boston's chief rivals.

Terry My mission is to kill. Whoever that is, whether it's the Heat, whether it's the Lakers. Hopefully both. That's my mission and that's what I'm here to do.

-- Celtics newcomer Jason Terry

"My mission is to kill," Terry said before teeing off in the team's annual golf tournament at The International. "Whoever that is, whether it's the Heat, whether it's the Lakers. Hopefully both. That's my mission and that's what I'm here to do."

Yep, Terry is doing everything in his power to get everyone to forget about -- as Rajon Rondo might call him -- that guy. In fact, that guy's name did not come up one single time as Terry, Jason Collins, Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge met with reporters Tuesday morning.

No, a summer saturated with Boston players expressing an array of emotions over the departure of Ray Allen (errr, that guy) has given way to an autumn of unbridled optimism about the upcoming season.

And that's in large part because of the bodies the Celtics have brought in to replace Allen, including Terry and Courtney Lee. When you couple that with a returning backcourt of Rondo and (when healthy) Avery Bradley, that's a potent four-guard rotation.

"We're really excited about our guard play," Ainge said.

Then Rivers made a stronger declaration: "I don't know if anyone has a better guard core than us."

Ainge, fresh off a summer that featured the signing of a whopping 13 players, took a bit of a victory lap for the overall roster his staff has constructed. Not only did the team re-sign starters Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass, but it added two midlevel-caliber players (Terry, Lee); brought back Jeff Green on a long-term deal; drafted a pair of first-round big men (Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo); and added depth at almost every spot on the floor.

[+] EnlargeJason Terry
Steve Mitchell/US PresswireTerry, one of the players brought in to replace Ray Allen, has vowed to be exactly the bench scorer the team needs.

"I think we're deep at every position," Ainge said, admitting that injuries depleted the team in recent seasons but adding that he really likes the team on paper heading into the 2012-13 campaign. "We have a lot of depth. We're deep at the point, the 2, 3, 4 and 5. I'm excited about our depth."

So is Rivers, who for maybe the first time has the flexibility to mix and match pieces all over the court. He was speaking about the guards, but he could have been talking about the entire roster when he noted, "I've always thought that [versatility is] the way I would love to coach and I'm going to have the opportunity to do that."

The Celtics finalized their offseason roster construction last week with the addition of center Darko Milicic. Coupled with the retirement of Keyon Dooling, the Celtics still have 16 players under contract (three of which are on non- or partially guaranteed deals), and Ainge said the trio of second-round pick Kris Joseph and first-year guards Dionte Christmas and Jamar Smith would compete for the final roster spot and a chance to add depth at the guard position.

With the roster set, the focus has been on building chemistry. Informal workouts have been going on for the better part of a month in Waltham. Then last week Rondo organized a field trip that saw the team convene in Los Angeles for workouts on the UCLA campus. Players who were working out in Boston (including Rondo, Terry, Lee and Chris Wilcox) went west to join up with California residents Garnett, Paul Pierce and Collins for nearly full-squad work.

"It was impressive watching the pickup games and the depth that we have," Collins said. "We have a lot of good players, a lot of talent on this team."

Rivers said he hasn't given much thought to individual roles, knowing that will sort itself out both in camp and over the course of an 82-game season. He does envision Garnett sticking at the center position but didn't rule out anything.

"It's going to work itself out," Rivers said. "I'm pretty sure I think I know. But, again, you get in the gym and guys change your mind."

That happened last season when Garnett shuffled to the 5 and Bass hopped into the starting lineup, helping to ignite Boston's second-half surge (which ended just a few minutes short of the NBA Finals).

Asked whether renewed depth at the center spot could allow Garnett to play the 5, Rivers bottom-lined it.

"I don't think Kevin cares as much as he says," Rivers said. "I think Kevin just wants to win. If I told him he had to play point and we would win the title by him doing that, he would give it a try. I just think that's who Kevin is."

With that in mind, Garnett should get along swimmingly with Terry, who didn't hesitate to set lofty goals for his new squad after listing off his own championship pedigree.

"I'm very excited. Obviously another opportunity to win a championship," Terry said. "That's what it's all about. There's no other motive here but to go out there and win, and win it all."

Yup, he's going to fit in just fine around here.

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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