The Dallas Mavericks complete their toughest stretch of the season tonight against the Golden State Warriors. They have lost eight of their last eleven and are only one loss away from finding themselves in serious trouble in the Western Conference standings. Apparently Jason Terry thought enough is enough and addressed his frustration twice this weak. After the game against the Suns, where coach Rick Carlisle didn't play him for the last possession in favor of Rodrigue Beaubois, who went on missing two potential game-tying shots (Jason Terry is 3-of-6 in such situations this season), Terry said:
I can't check myself in and out of games. You got to ask the person that didn't have me in the game. Ask him his thoughts.
Then last night, after the worst defensive performance of the year, Terry added:
We're not a team right now. It shows so until we become a team and play together on both ends of the court, we're not going to be very good. Last year, we went through tough times and it brought us together. This year we hit tough times and grow further apart. That's the biggest difference.
It's time for change. You can only look at something for so long and you're getting the same result so at what point are you going to change or are you going to ride it out. At what point are you going to change? I would [make a deal at the deadline]. But again, I'm not management or ownership.
That's pretty harsh stuff. He's calling out (unnamed) teammates and suggests they need to go. He would move them. Terry was clearly frustrated and affected by the embarrassing loss, but the statement stands and we have to differentiate between two factors here. The first part of his most recent statement is addressing a team issue, that things aren't going well in the locker room and throwing that out to the public is a good way to force a debate within the players. Terry has earned the right to do this. He is a longtime Maverick now, went through the disappointment in 2006 and came back as the only player with Dirk Nowitzki to win the title last year. I'm perfectly fine with this part of his statement. More than that: If anybody should address these issues publicly, it should be one of the members of last years core (Terry, Dirk, Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd, Brendan Haywood), not their young guns or newly acquired players who have yet to earn reputation within the team.
But it gets complicated with calling out your teammates, even demanding a trade. To make such claims, it doesn't matter who you are or if you have earned the right to speak up. The question is: Do you lead by example? If you address team issues you should have earned your stripes to do so, if you call out the teammates performance, you should perform yourself. Otherwise it's just a silly statement of a grumpy player, who might realize that his days in Dallas are counted, starting with the next season.
Don't get me wrong. We all love Jason Terry for what he has done last season and his contract situation is complicated and he confirmed that he thinks about it "every day". The Mavericks let go of Tyson Chandler, Jose Barea, Caron Butler and Terry was one of the players, which mentioned during that offseason that it is on the ownership to keep this guys. He also wanted a four-year extension, which I would doubt was even discussed. So neither of his wishes were granted. And that's independent of the new CBA. He wouldn't have gotten an extension under the old CBA. It's business. This is where fans and also players get all confused. We want to keep Terry, because we like him, he wants to stay because he likes the franchise. We want to reward him, in a way, for what he has done for the teams success, he wants a new contract because he thinks he has earned it. We say, "How can you not want to keep this guy, he was a big part of our championship run!" Just like we said "How could you not keep Tyson (and the others)?"
Because business is not emotional. To assess a players worth you got to ask what the player has done for you lately and more importantly, what the player will do for you in the future.
And because of that question, Terry's second part of the comment is inappropriate, because guys like Lamar Odom should ask him what he has done lately to help the team and why he shouldn't be traded himself.
Wait! How dare you! Have you forgotten how vital Terry has been? Of course not. Terry will have a place in Mavs history regardless, but it's not about the past or reputation, it's about this year.
In February and March, he played great in five games (participated in a total of 18 games). In eight of these 18 games, he statistically did hurt the team, in four of them he even was the Mavs worst player on the court. More importantly, last night was his best game on the road all season, which pretty much tells you everything about the road woes of the JET. Common sense says home games are won by your role players, road games are won by your stars. Terry is not a star, but he is considered the second most important player next to Dirk. He should be stepping up, especially on the road.
So how can a player, who in February and March is in the middle of the pack right on par with Vince Carter, Rodrigue Beaubois and Ian Mahinmi and well behind Marion, Dirk, Jason Kidd and West, express claims to trade his teammates? The answer is simple: He can't... or at least he shouldn't. It's neither smart nor appropriate and more importantly, he isn't even in a position to do so. Because he is part of the problem.
I'd be much more comfortable if Marion addressed his teammates. His offensive game is also shaky in recent games, but at least he's competing on defense. Terry's defense is annoying and although he did put points on the board last night, he was a big part of the reason why the Kings scored 110. Rick Carlisle benched him against the Suns because he didn't even try to box out Shannon Brown on a putback. Yesterday he allowed his counterparts to grab four offensive rebounds, while Lamar Odom held his to a PER of 2.55 and 16.67% shooting. It's tricky.
Fans are willing to give Terry the benefit of the doubt and they should, but when it comes to criticizing your teammates performance, you better lead by example, because you absolutely need that credibility. Jason Terry called out LeBron James during last years Finals and backed up his words by outplaying the "queen" all the way. He should now look to put together a string of good games to back up his opinion once again... starting with tonight. Otherwise he might just look like a grumpy player.