Almost immediately following the Dallas Mavericks' triumph in the 2011 NBA Finals, the NBA locked out its players in order to ensure greater revenue sharing and a significant shift in income that would head the NBA owners' way. During this lockout, and possibly irrespective of its outcome, Mavs owner Mark Cuban decided to hold off on securing the futures of the veteran talents that helped his Mavericks take down the Heat in June of 2011. Tyson Chandler, the eventual Defensive Player of the Year, was the initial "victim" of sorts. Jason Kidd, potentially the next; as the Mavs look to hold on to a significant chunk of cap space during this offseason in hopes of either signing or trading for their next star to pair alongside Dirk Nowitzki.
Jason Terry has always given us the impression that he feels as if he's just a small step removed from being an NBA star, and this is part of the reason he's been one of our favorite players for years. Spurned by the Mavs, however tactfully and professionally by Cuban's club, Terry has decided to take his talents to Boston after a carefully considered decision. Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears was the first to report that the man we call JET will sign a three-year deal starting at the league's mid-level exception with the Celtics, at a salary of around $5 million a year.
Though Terry's position and shooting range would seem to serve as a substitute for free agent Celtics guard Ray Allen, who was coming off the bench for Boston when Avery Bradley was healthy enough to play during last year's playoffs, all indications point to the Celtics as still hoping to retain Allen's services for 2012-13 and beyond. Allen is being courted not only by the C's but the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies. Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo was an early target of Boston's, but entering his first free agency Mayo may have priced himself out of Boston's range. With Allen still in limbo, the C's made a fine move in grabbing the 2009 Sixth Man Award winner.
Because, as we discussed over the weekend when it became apparent that Kevin Garnett would be staying in Boston for a few more years, the Celtics really are backed into a corner on this. It's a good corner to be in, with a team full of vets that can take even the best in the business to the brink (and we'd say that even if the Miami Heat dispatched Boston in five games during this year's postseason, and not seven), but it's no guarantee to even make the playoffs should a rash of injuries hit an older team.
The good news for Boston is that the team appears to be on track to bringing the whole gang back, without hitting the dreaded luxury tax. Or the 4 million mark above the tax line, one that would legally put the kibosh on the Celtics using the MLE to sign a player.
With Terry coming aboard, Garnett signed to double-figures, and Allen taking a pay cut the C's should have enough cash to bring Brandon Bass back for a pay raise, maybe return Jeff Green (though I hope they don't overpay Green, a tough player but without a position) and possibly retain Mickael Pietrus. This will still be a thin team, one that will struggle to score even with Terry's gifts, and one that will still feature Garnett, Allen and Paul Pierce attempting to create a championship contender out of the winters of respective careers; but the idea of finding Jason Terry on the break with a Rajon Rondo bullet still intrigues this outsider.
Dallas' future is much cloudier. But this is what happens when you take a calculated risk.
Terry made no secret of his desire to sign an extension with Dallas, but the Mavs just couldn't risk retaining Jason with so many other options out there. Mavs owner Mark Cuban has warned his team's fans all along that the team might very well go through the summer without making a splash with a big signing or trade, and while this option was sent out to disarm it's also probably as smart as not committing to that veteran crew in the 2011 offseason, and it's certainly smarter than spending this offseason just for the sake of spending.
Even if it means costing the Mavericks one of Dirk Nowitzki's last great seasons.
Of course, nothing is settled yet. Not only are the contracts unofficial until July 11, but there's still time for Terry to go back on his word to Boston or follow through on the rumors that are out there circulating word that he'll give the Mavs a chance to match Boston's offer. Dallas, full of all manner of capologists and mindful front-office types, could still rescue the offseason. Losing out on Terry, at 35 years of age, is not a harbinger or telling move — it just means Boston added another pretty good old dude.
Good for them, and good for JET.