Best Potential Landing Spots for Jason Terry in 2015 NBA Free Agency

Stephen Babb@@StephenBabbFeatured ColumnistJuly 9, 2015

Best Potential Landing Spots for Jason Terry in 2015 NBA Free Agency

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    Few 16-year veterans garner the kind of interest Jason Terry is getting right now. The unrestricted free agent has been linked to at least two teams already, and additional rumors are sure to emerge as higher-priced free agents situate themselves. 

    Terry averaged seven points per contest while making 39 percent of his three-point attempts for the Houston Rockets last season. He elevated his production in the playoffs, averaging 9.2 points and 2.8 assists while starting all 17 of Houston's postseason games. Those numbers don't jump off the screen, but they're solid enough to warrant one more contract.

    Odds are Terry wants to be with a winner, but he also might consider things like his ability to make an impact and carve out a rotational role. There was a time when just about any team would have instantly added Terry as a sixth-man specialist. His list of suitors may be narrower these days, but it's likely to include some very good teams in need of a little extra depth.

    We've ranked five of those teams according to which offers the best all-around fit for Terry and the team alike.

5. Washington Wizards

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    If reports that the Washington Wizards pursued guard Rodney Stuckey are accurate, the organization may well be in the market for some backcourt depth. The nice thing about Terry is that he'd also contribute some of the veteran leadership that will be missed on account of Paul Pierce's departure to the Los Angeles Clippers.

    Headlined by young guards John Wall and Bradley Beal, the Wizards increasingly represent a threat to Eastern Conference favorites like the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls. Adding some experienced depth could further that cause in a big way. Terry has been around the block, but he's also been around a lot of winners. That's precisely the kind of pedigree Washington could use behind Wall and Beal.

    While the Wizards ranked sixth league-wide in three-point accuracy a season ago (at 36.6 percent), Pierce's departure will impact the team in that regard, as well. And since when do you really need to justify the addition of another shooter? Terry still impacts the bottom line, and he'd be a welcome sight for a franchise making steady progress through the East's ranks.

4. Portland Trail Blazers

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    The Portland Trail Blazers parted ways with veteran sharpshooter Steve Blake via trade on draft night, and that creates a need for a point guard like Terry. This team won't contend immediately after the departure of cornerstone LaMarcus Aldridge, but some veteran leadership could keep it in the playoff conversation.

    Terry's ability to mentor 24-year-old starter (and emerging star) Damian Lillard would be another perk. They both like to shoot the ball, and they've both developed novel ways to create their own shots. It could be a natural relationship. And that could be a big deal as Portland increasingly becomes Lillard's team. Having a guy like Terry around certainly wouldn't hurt that transition.

    The Trail Blazers are suddenly a very young team. That's a good thing for the most part, but there's no substitute for grizzled locker room veterans like Terry. The 37-year-old may find better chances to win elsewhere, but Portland may be his best opportunity to make an impact.

    Portland also may be able to offer more money than some would-be contenders. It remains well under the salary cap, even after agreeing to deals with Al-Farouq Aminu and Ed Davis.

3. Los Angeles Clippers

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    The Los Angeles Clippers may have real need for a backup point guard right about now. Incumbent reserve Austin Rivers is anything but a lock to return.

    "I plan on looking at all my options and making best decision for my career," Rivers recently told ESPN.com's Marc Stein. "I'll definitely consult my family they've always been extremely supportive. I do love playing for Clippers...just going to be patient & hear everyone out."

    It might be a stretch to describe Terry as an upgrade from Rivers at this stage in their respective careers, but he may be a superior fit in terms of his shooting ability and veteran pedigree. Rivers showed some flashes of potential last season—even in the playoffs—but he only has a small fraction of Terry's accumulated experience.

    That could make a difference to a team that's looking for depth that will withstand the postseason. Terry proved he's still capable of doing so with the Rockets, so it isn't hard to see him latching on to another contender like the Clippers.

    L.A. could turn to a younger option like Nate Wolters, who's playing with the summer league squad. But Terry is a far more established possibility, and potentially a perfect fit behind starters Chris Paul and J.J. Redick.

2. Houston Rockets

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    There's something to be said for safe bets, and the Houston Rockets are most certainly that. Head coach Kevin McHale's team comes off a campaign in which it advanced to the Western Conference Finals despite a season-ending injury that sidelined starting point guard Patrick Beverley in March.

    While that injury afforded Terry ample opportunity to prove he's still got it, it also demonstrated just how talented the rest of the roster was. That should weigh heavily in Terry's thinking this summer. There may be better fits out there, but there's probably no better opportunity to win.

    Houston boasts a duo of stars in James Harden and Dwight Howard, both of whom are dominant at their respective positions. And it owns a complete rotation with two-way threats like Beverley, Trevor Ariza and Corey Brewer, who recently agreed to a three-year, $24 million pact with the organization. On paper, it's a pretty ideal situation for Terry. The Rockets need a second-unit spark plug, and that's been Terry's modus operandi for a while now.

    It's entirely conceivable that Houston could keep the band together for another go-around.

    As The Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen notes, "Even without touching the mid-level exception, they could still bring back Jason Terry at any price because they have full Bird rights with him and Josh Smith to a non-Bird tender contract, if he would take a contract that would start at roughly $2.5 million the first season."

    Terry's return is anything but automatic at this juncture, but he at least seems open to the idea.

    "I love what we accomplished in Houston, and they're going to have a chance," Terry recently told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Dwain Price. "They're going to come to the table, also, so my options are open."

    How open is anyone's guess. It's also not entirely clear what's motivating Terry at this point. Is he looking for another championship, an opportunity to mentor or perhaps some familiarity? 

1. Dallas Mavericks

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    It would be the closest thing to a storybook ending for Terry's career, and it appears to be well within the realm of possibility. 

    The Dallas Morning News' Eddie Sefko reported over the weekend that "the Mavericks have had conversations with Terry and his camp about returning to Dallas, where he spent half of his 16 NBA seasons and helped win the 2011 championship."

    Terry confirmed that news earlier this week, telling the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Dwain Price, "The word from [the Mavs] is they want me back, but there have been no negotiations whatsoever."

    "It's on them. I'm going to let them make the decision."

    There's a lot to like about the scenario from both perspectives. Terry would join a known quantity, an operation with which he's already comfortable and a system with which he's already familiar. Meanwhile, the Mavericks would add a stabilizing presence to a backcourt that currently seems destined for some kind of platoon approach. Terry would bring leadership to whatever configuration takes shape, even if the organization also winds up acquiring someone like Jeremy Lin to run the show.

    One has to believe that the organization isn't satisfied with the currently under-contract tandem of Raymond Felton and Devin Harris. And with resources likely stretched by other additions, bargain buys like Terry represent a particularly attractive solution. Few veterans have better ties to the franchise, and that will count for something, too. Put simply, it's no surprise general manager Donnie Nelson and owner Mark Cuban are in on Terry.

    It may be more surprising if he signs anywhere else.

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