Jason Terry has been a staple off Dallas' bench for the last eight season. Before the 2011 season, Terry boldly got a tattoo of the Larry O'Brien Trophy and then was a critical player off the bench as the Mavericks made good on that promise and won the franchise's first NBA championship, exorcising some demons from a 2006 loss to the very same Heat.
Terry's 2012 season was still pretty productive, with 15.1 points per game and 17.1 points per 36 minutes, both slightly down from the year before. It seems Terry still has some basketball left in him even at 34 years old and 13 years into his career.
Terry would love to stay in Dallas, but he is not looking to go mercenary and sign one-year deal after one-year deal either. He wants some long-term security now that his six-year, $57-million deal ends this July and he will hit the free agent market.
"It's a tough situation," Terry told Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning-News. "I'm finally in a position where I can kind of predict my own future, so to speak. I want to stay here in Dallas. That's always been my goal. But it needs to be long-term. If they're not ready to step up and do that, then I'll have to make my home elsewhere."
Terry said it simply, if he is offered a one-year deal, he will not be returning to Dallas. And the Mavericks will be in the market for a new sixth man.
That is not something the Mavericks have had to do for a very long time. It was Terry, after all, that revived the role of the sixth man in the NBA and made it an acceptable scoring role for guys like Manu Ginobili and James Harden. Terry was a great starter for a struggling Atlanta team early in his career, but came to Dallas and accepted the sixth man role, knowing full well he could start for just about every team in the league.
It is pretty clear Terry wants to remain in that role that has brought him a ton of success in Dallas. His teammates believe he deserves it. Jason Kidd said he thinks Terry should pursue a long-term deal, whereas Kidd would be fine with a one-year deal.
The Mavericks are working on a long game here though, and Terry may not be part of those plans.
Dallas has enough cap room this summer to go after a big-name free agent -- many speculate Deron Williams -- especially if the team amnesties the final four years of Brendan Haywood's contract. The Mavericks could, if they play their cards right, have even more cap room available to go after a strong 2013 free agent class -- that could include Dwight Howard (Mark Cuban's evil plan has not died quite yet).
A long-term deal for Terry, who made $11.2 million last season and is likely in line for a contract slightly above the mid-level exception in the $7-9 million per year range, would end that plan and might even make it harder for the Mavericks to bring Deron Williams home.
This is something that Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban will have to weigh heavily when they begin negotiations with Terry. The unfortunate part is that Terry might get lost in the shuffl of Dallas' bigger plans.
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