October 19, 2011

Dallas Mavericks' player rep on hold

Jason Terry is convinced there will be an NBA season.

As the Dallas Mavericks' player representative, Jason Terry is kept abreast of the ongoing NBA labor talks as close as anyone not in the negotiating room.

He's optimistic basketball will be played this season and the Mavericks will get their chance to defend their NBA title. But he's also cautious not to expect too much out of this week's bargaining sessions with a federal mediator that began with a 16-hour meeting Tuesday in New York and continued Wednesday.

"We've got to come to some sort of agreement, an agreement that's fair," Terry said. "We can't just sign a deal just to save the season. We've got to try to have one that's fair and leaves the game in a better state. If you look at last season, the whole NBA is on the rise.

"It shows you something has to be done. Nobody, not the owners or the players, wants to see us not have a season. That's the last thing on our agenda."

But this season remains in jeopardy. The lockout has stretched nearly four months, with the entire preseason and the first two weeks of the season already wiped out. NBA Commissioner David Stern has suggested that games through Christmas could be canceled if significant progress isn't made this week.

"The threat is a tactic," Terry said of Stern's thinly veiled warning, "but to whose advantage? No games, we all lose."

Lost paychecks, along with comments made by Washington center JaVale McGee that some players are ready to fold, have fueled the notion that the players' association is showing cracks behind union director Billy Hunter and president Derek Fisher.

"We're as strong as ever," Terry countered. "It's only because Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher have done a great job preparing us for this lockout. We've seen this coming for two or three years."

Terry has kept his teammates informed about the latest on the labor front. Mentally and physically, he's also trying to prepare for a season. The Mavericks would have been at Charlotte tonight for a preseason game. The regular season was to start Nov. 1 against Chicago.

"I'm not a big preseason guy; so my clock doesn't really get started for another week-and-a-half," Terry said. "That part of me will never change. Do I miss the competitive nature of being around the guys in the locker room? You know I do.

"If this lockout affects anyone more, it affects my wife. She's so tired of looking at me around the house."

Terry admitted there's a personal side that's difficult to deal with since the league prohibits team-player interaction during the lockout. Three of the people he's closest to in the Mavs' organization -- owner Mark Cuban, coach Rick Carlisle and strength coach Robert Hackett -- are hard to ignore.

"Our kids play together on a daily basis," Terry said. "I see Carlisle at a soccer game and I get emotional. I can't really do much but give him a hug, shake his hand and move on. It's probably the toughest thing for us. Being that we won the championship, we are a close-knit group."

Terry would like to get back on the court with his teammates, even during the lockout, but realizes it's problematic. Unlike the NFL impasse, when teams around the league got together for player-led practices, doing the same isn't feasible for the Mavs.

The Mavericks have 10 players under contract, which Terry said isn't enough to run a decent practice. He wouldn't expect free agents such as Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea, Caron Butler and DeShawn Stevenson to risk injury in a nonsanctioned practice setting.

Terry is concerned about the younger players. The time away from the team can't be good for Roddy Beaubois and last year's first-round pick Dominique Jones, Terry said.

As for veterans like Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion, they'll be set once an agreement is reached. Terry worked out with Kidd recently at SMU and talks to Nowitzki at least once a week.

"Guys are going to be ready," Terry said. "Usually what happens when you win a championship is guys get a big head and you'd think their stomach was full. For us, we just tasted it and that taste alone is not satisfying. We want to go back and do it again.

"Every guy I've talked to this summer is eager to get back out there to do it again, because nobody is going to pick us to. We're getting older; we're a veteran team. The window is closing. We're always going to have to answer those types of questions and that's what motivates us and challenges us to do it again."

There's added motivation for Terry, who has no desire to play overseas should the lockout linger and threaten the entire season.

"This is a contract year for me," he continued. "I'd love to get an extension done before the season starts. This is a big year for me and we're defending a championship. It's another chance for me to go out and have a great year, not only for myself but for my team to do it again."

While defending the title is at the top of his mind, so are receiving championship rings, raising the banner inside American Airlines Center and visiting the White House. All are currently on hold.

"I want to get to the White House to see [President] Obama before he's up for re-election," Terry said. "There's a lot going into this season that we're missing out on. I miss everybody -- the media, I miss the equipment manager [Al Whitley] and his family.

"Think about all the workers it's affecting around American Airlines Center. It's sad, but eventually it's going to get worked out and we'll be back playing the game where our last memory was hoisting up that trophy."

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