Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Instant Trade Analysis: Jason Terry to the Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics get: G Jason Terry, 3 years, $15 million
The already ancient Boston Celtics just got even older, but that might not even be a bad thing.
As the Boston media likes to say, the Celtics are approaching year six of a three-year plan. When a 31 year-old Kevin Garnett and a 32 year-old Ray Allen were traded to Boston in that week-long stretch in 2007, writers and talking heads alike proclaimed no more than  two or three year window for the new "Big Three" to win a title in New England. Here we are, not in 2009 or 2010, but rather in 2012 asking ourselves how much longer can they keep the panes of opportunity from closing shut.

Miraculously, the Celtics have remained relevant amidst massive changes in the East, from the Knicks resurgence to the formation of the eventual 2012 NBA Champion Miami Heat and the upstart Bulls from Chicago. At the ages of 36, 37 and 34 respectively, KG, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, the Celtics forced themselves to a Game 7 with LeBron, Wade and Bosh, narrowly missing another chance to play for their second title. While Rajon Rondo is undoubtedly the most talented of anyone in Beantown these days, there's no doubt that it's Garnett's leadership and intensity, Piece's four quarter bravado and Ray's steadiness that keeps this team competing for titles.

Strangely, one of the oldest rosters in the league wasn't slayed by the younger Sixers, Hawks or Heat with athleticism or toughness. To be frank, the Celtics just didn't have enough bodies. Doc Rivers' squad managed to lose rotation players G Avery Bradley, F Jeff Green, F Chris Wilcox and C Jermaine O'Neal to injury before the deciding Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. More importantly, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce were both playing with injuries that would have kept them on the sidelines if it weren't the postseason. Even when equipped with personnel whose myriad of disabilities became comical, the C's still played their trademark defense and managed to put up enough points on the board behind Garnett's resurgent play and Rondo's otherwordly productiveness.
With Ray Allen possibly going to the Clippers, Thunder or Heat in free agency, the Celtics needed someone with three different qualifications: long-range shooting, health and offensive production. Since the beginning of free agency, the C's had coveted ex-Memphis guard OJ Mayo. He'd be able to provide all of the above criteria, and as a bonus, the former 2nd overall draft pick was a full decade younger than his prospective teammates. However, his asking price was over what the capped-out Celtics had to offer. Enter Jason Terry.
JET, now 35, may be exactly what Boston GM Danny Ainge is looking for. Terry is coming of a eight-year stint with the Mavericks that involved two NBA Finals and one championship.  He amazingly ranks fourth on the all-time three-point buckets made, shooting no worse than 36% in any of his seasons in Dallas. Terry has been reliably averaged over 16 points per season as a Maverick, mostly off the bench, winning the Sixth Man of the Year award in 2009. Perhaps most importantly, Jason Terry has missed 28 games...in his career. Unbelievable. JET has been the paragon of good health, which is incredibly important for a team that's had a rash of injuries the past few years, and isn't getting any easier with the progressing seasons under their belts and on their knees.

There's not really a much more perfect match for the Celtics - he's relatively cheap, willing to come off the bench behind blossoming young guard Avery Bradley, can score by the truckload and will lace 'em up every single night. He's a veteran dripping with confidence like he had just been in a swag-bukkake and has a single-minded focus on winning another title, which will presumably fit in with the cadre of grizzled warriors in the Celtics' locker room.

This is a fantastic signing for a Boston squad that feels like they only need better health and some tweaks to compete for a Finals berth. I'm not sure they can hope for better health, seeing as at least three of their most important players - Garnett, Pierce and now Terry - will be 35 or older (and that's not even counting the 37 year-old Ray Allen if he re-signs, which is still possible). I believe that the same type of injuries will still keep cropping up for a group of guys that play as hard and committed to defense as they do. However, adding a perennial offensive sparkplug with a reliable bill of health is the best way to help allay the situation.

I hate giving the Celtics compliments, but a great move by Ainge. I still don't think that this team is good enough to beat Miami because of their inability, or anyone's for that matter, to contain LeBron, as well as the Heat's league-best team defense, but this move pushes them that much closer.  
As for the 2012-2013 Mavericks, Mark Cuban just lost arguably the second-best player on his team. Dallas has been banking on a signing of Dwight Howard, Deron Williams or both this summer, and if that were to happen, they'd let Terry and his salary walk. However, even with the prospects of Deron joining the team fading more and more by the hour, I still think the Mavericks need to keep their options open for a potential Dwight Howard acquisition; that would make relinquishing reigning Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler palatable just a year later. Perhaps more pertinent to Terry himself, the Mavericks need to get younger and more athletic, so matching a three-year deal for a 35 year-old wasn't a great use of assets. Going after a younger guard, like Jamal Crawford or OJ Mayo coud be more prudent, if the funds allow.

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