Jason Terry on Celtics retooling and upstart Bucks – CLNS Exclusive Interview

Jason Terry talks to CLNS Media on aiming for his 20th NBA season, how the Celtics never truly rebuild and more.

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(Kelley L Cox, USA TODAY Sports)

Jason Terry, nicknamed the J.E.T due to his initials, has slowly been losing fuel the past few seasons in terms of his production on the court. In his 18th season, second with the Milwaukee Bucks, Terry reiterated to CLNS his desire to continue his career after this season with a vision of reaching 20 seasons.

As the Bucks were preparing to exit Boston after a 111-100 loss, both Terry and Eric Bledsoe were seated at their lockers — which were next to each other — having a private conversation as both were in the process of departing from TD Garden. As their talk continued, Terry made a gesture to receive an ice bag. Not for himself, but for Bledsoe. With a locker room assistant coming over and giving Terry the bag, he simply responded by saying, “thank you, young fella.”

Just saying “young fella” showed Terry’s 40-year-old age, and how he truly is the lead man for Milwaukee. He’s the only player on the team with at least a decade spent in the league, with Bledsoe coming in second with seven years in the association. With an 11-year difference between the two, Terry sees himself having to be a prime example of how to be an NBA professional on and off the court.

“It’s a continual process,” Terry told CLNS. “These guys are easy though. They’re willing, they’re hungry to learn and they listen. They apply what they listen to their craft, so it makes my job easy.”

Terry has been used sporadically this season, but his role with the team is bigger than what he use to do in Dallas during his heyday, from winning a championship (2011) to being named sixth man of the year (2009). He’s there to lead by example, despite the age gap between the other players.

The lack of true veterans on Milwaukee’s roster is due to the team going with an all-out in a youth movement with most of their players besides Terry being in their early, mid or late 20’s. They’ve went the route of creating a respectable team through the draft with players in reigning rookie of the year, Malcolm Brogdon; the consistently improving Khris Middleton; the high potential of Jabari Parker and uniquely talented Giannis Antetokounmpo. The franchise is following their blueprints of drafting and developing, akin to what the Celtics have done.

Over the past few seasons, Boston has drafted players such as Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. With the assistance of an all-time trade with the Nets, along with the increased performance of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder, Boston was able to accelerate their return to championship contention sooner rather than later.

Terry, a former Celtic, acknowledges Boston hasn’t really been in a rebuilding a phase in recent memory. Instead, they’ve just found ways to get better by inserting the right pieces into the fold.

“Celtics try to say they’re rebuilding,” said Terry,” but I think only one time in their history they had to rebuild. When they loss Reggie Lewis and Len Bias, and maybe when they had Antoine Walker and Paul Pierce.”

“After that, they just continued to get better. Even though they’ll lose a star player or star players, like I was in the big trade. Rondo, KG, Paul Pierce. Losing those guys, they still continue to acquire talent and play well and perform. Last year to me should show everybody that with great coaching, a good system and good management you can do great things.”

Other Jason Terry tidbits:

  • Views Arizona’s Alonzo Trier (23.9 points) and DeAndre Ayton (20.4 points, 11.4 rebounds) as first-round picks.
  • “Allonzo Trier’s having a helluva year, averaging almost 30 points a game,” said Terry. “DeAndre Ayton is definitely a top five pick. He’s seven-feet with a 45-inch vertical. He’s a dominant factor inside
  • On his AAU team, the Lady Jets, which started 12 years ago, Terry is a fan of their quick development from starting as a recreational league team to finishing second in nationals in their first year.
  • Terry estimates at least 10 division one players are produced each year from his program and is “very proud of it.”
  • For Terry’s AAU team there are four high school teams and three grassroots teams. Expansion has included the Lady Jets heading to Louisiana and his hometown Seattle. “It’s my giveback to the community,” said Terry.
  • His program has produced multiple division one players, McDonald’s All-American’s and an Olympic gold medalist.