Player: Jason Terry
Acquired: via trade with Sacramento
Contract Situation: On last year of deal that will pay him $5.8 million this year
Fun Fact: Everyone here hated his guts until a month ago
Signing up to do this player preview was hard to do as a Rockets fan. With all of the pleasure I've gotten from hating Jason Terry over the years, I had half a mind to make the entire preview a counter-factual analysis of how Kenny Smith, the only Rocket who should rightly don the "Jet" nickname, would fit on the team this season.
Luckily for everyone involved, I decided to actually do my job.
Besides, any NBA geriatric from Philadelphia will tell you that they both stole the moniker from Hall of Famer Chet "The Jet" Walker who, along with Wilt Chamberlain, helped lead the 76ers to an NBA Championship the year after Kenny Smith was born.
Walker retired from the NBA two years before Jason Terry stepped foot on this earth, in addition to being inducted into the Hall of Fame the year after Terry won his championship with the Mavericks.
Just so we can move on, though -- Kenny Smith won the exclusive rights to the "Jet" nickname after beating Terry in a TNT shooting contest.
Run through the tape, Kenny. Run through the tape.
Jason Eugene Terry (J.E.T) - The Big Picture
In the twilight of his career, Jason Terry, like so many veterans before him, has become a journeyman in recent years. After playing games in his first 12 seasons with just two teams (Atlanta and Dallas), Terry has been on four different rosters since he left the Mavs (Boston, Brooklyn, Sacramento, and now Houston).
Terry is the ninth-oldest active NBA player, edging out Paul Pierce by 28 days.
Terry was named 6th Man of the Year with Dallas played a key role in the Maverick's championship run.
Of all active players in the NBA, Jason Terry trails only Ray Allen in career 3-pointers made. If you remove the "active" qualifier he only slips to fourth all-time, getting bumped by the likes of Reggie Miller and Jason Kidd.
In the playoffs, Terry is 14th in league history in 3-pointers made. Jason will be looking to climb up to the 11th spot on the all-time playoff list if the Rockets can slog their way through a brutal Western conference into April; Terry needs 18 post-season triples to pass Michael Finley, Rasheed Wallace, and Scottie Pippen, nestling himself comfortably behind LeBron James on that list.
Among all active players, Jason Terry is 7th on the all-time playoff 3-pointers made list.
Terry is 12th on the active points leaders list with 17,445 points and only needs 36 points to pass Dwyane Wade.
On top of all of this, Rockets fans are all too familiar with Terry's "Rocket killer" credentials. Hopefully, there is just something in the water at the Toyota Center that continues to make the net a mile wide for Jason.
But, What Have You Done For Me Lately
The past couple of seasons have belied Terry's aggregated career numbers.
In Boston's 2012-13 season, Terry played in 79 games and averaged over 25 minutes a game in a very similar role to his Dallas days off the bench (starting a handful of those games). As the original "Big 3" in Boston fled to Brooklyn, Terry got swept up in a trade that resulted in a change of role.
As a result, Terry logged a career low 16.3 minutes per game and just 4.5 points per game to show for it, reaching double-digit scoring in just 6 of his 35 games with Brooklyn. The Nets then shipped Terry to Sacramento, along with Reggie Evans, to acquire Marcus Thornton.
Terry's lingering knee injury made him inactive the rest of last season, and he rehabbed in Dallas after the All-Star break. According to Jason, this time off has given him the opportunity to ease back into game shape without any setbacks in order to contribute to his new team.
Jason Terry is a consummate professional, which makes despising him on this squad much, much harder. He is intelligent, charismatic, and, perhaps most importantly, no longer wearing a Mavericks jersey (His tattoos, on the other hand, are a different story)
I want to hate him, I really do; but the first time he gets hot on a shooting streak off the bench I will be yelling, gleefully, at the top of my lungs as he hangs the net.
Jason has also always been a team player; his acceptance of a sixth man role in Dallas speaks volumes in that regard. Even in college at the University of Arizona, Terry was mature enough to let his former teammate, Mike Bibby, a then hot-shot frosh, start despite Terry's upperclassmen status. At this point in his career, Terry is even more willing to take on the "player/coach" role.
The rest of the team has embraced him in that role as well. Jenny Dial Creech of the Houston Chronicle recently noted that
Even though Terry had been sitting out of drills and scrimmages until recently, his presence was felt. A few of the players jokingly called the 15-year NBA veteran "coach Terry" while he dispensed advice, gave pep talks and walked through plays with them.
"It's great having a guy like him around," guard Isaiah Canaan said. "He has so much experience. He is a guy I have watched for years, and he can teach me a lot."
With a bevy of new (and young) faces at the guard spot, the Rockets will have plenty of opportunities use Terry's experience and wisdom to their advantage. Canaan, Troy Daniels, Nick Johnson, Ish Smith, and Patrick Beverley have a lot to learn from the wily veteran.
Harden also has a lot to glean from Terry. In a recent interview, when asked about Harden's defense, Jason spoke optimistically about James' defensive potential.
Clearly, Terry has no rational incentive to state it otherwise to a media crew looking for more ammo to bash Harden, but he does hit the nail on the head in characterizing Harden as a player who is too much of an individual ball-hawk who needs to work on his team-oriented defensive, technique, and effort.
As a player, Terry proved himself to be an opportunistic defender in key moments. While never anything close to a lockdown perimeter defender, Terry is currently 10th in steals among all active players and, with just two more steals, Terry will climb into the top 50 all-time in career steals, passing Randy Smith.
Jason will no doubt have a ton of pointers for our young, All-Star guard throughout the season. I don't doubt Cisco's ability to drop knowledge in the locker room, but Jason Terry brings another level of high-caliber NBA experience at the position that is likely only matched by Steve Nash, Vince Carter, Manu Ginobili, and Ray Allen.
Although the "on-the-court coach" role is sure to improve the team in a number of ways that are hard to quantify, there is also a solid possibility of getting a reasonable amount of on-court production from the dinosaur from Dallas. When interviewed about his knee injury from last season, Terry said that he still "feels young," and that after his extended rehab, he "can honestly say," that his knee is "100% better,"
While Terry's athleticism has always been a part of his game, Ray Allen is living proof that shooting usually doesn't fade with age even if you lose a step or two. Jason's practice reps bear this out thus far.
Terry is also an underrated distributor and play-maker, ranking 10th among active players in career assists. Despite his progressively declining per-game averages in that category, Terry has savvy enough ball skills to make up for a loss in athleticism.
I'm not expecting Terry to put up anything close to monster numbers in any manner that could be defined as consistent, but I think our roster is set up to utilize his advantages in ways that Brooklyn and Boston were not. Houston has younger ears that Terry can tug and an offensive pace that plays right into his spark plug skill set.
Terry's experience and leadership make McHale much more likely to call his name off the bench over our younger options like Troy and Isaiah in any given game, but I don't envision Jason's minutes per game to eclipse his Brooklyn days. The Rockets' offensive system will make him more of a contributor than the Nets' offensive system while he is on the court. Hopefully, we will see our fair share of vintage fourth quarter Jason Terry shooting. Houston was a surprisingly mediocre 3-point shooting team last season so the added shooting prowess will be refreshing.
Houston's depth at guard should sufficiently mitigate the impact of any injuries or setbacks Terry suffers. Even then, a hobbled Jason Terry can still provide salient coaching advice to young guys during games.
Honestly, the two second-round picks Houston acquired in the Sacramento salary dump will likely prove to be of more value than Jason given Houston's penchant for sneaky draft selections, but if the Rockets end up making a championship run this year (or next, if he re-signs for cheap) Terry will play a big role in the process.
In a year where the Rockets rank 24th in NBA in terms roster continuity from the previous season, the bench is in desperate need of a leader. Houston retained just 57.6 percent of the minutes played on the roster last year, according to NBA.com's John Schuhmann.
The dirt cheap acquisition of Terry has the potential to directly fill in some of those minutes with veteran production and/or facilitate the uprising of another young contributor to help make up for the loss of Asik and Lin.
Put your historic hatred aside. The fact of the matter is that Morey obtained an all-time great shooter (in addition to two draft picks) with intangibles and experience that go well beyond his silky smooth shooting stroke and crafty ball skills.
Trust me, Alonzo Gee and Scotty Hopson will not be missed.