MILWAUKEE — Jason Terry speaks with such polish and passion about basketball he could be mistaken for a coach or TV analyst.
Someday he could do both jobs. For now, the Milwaukee Bucks guard is focused on his current occupation. It doesn’t appear he’ll be switching careers any time soon.
One more year in the league and Terry will reach a rare milestone in the NBA.
“For sure, 100 percent, my goal is to play 20 seasons,” Terry said. “The organization understands that and I think the league is on notice.”
At age 40, Terry still averages about 11 minutes a game in his 19th season. He might be a step slower from the days when he was popping 3-pointers in Atlanta and Dallas. But a player nicknamed “Jet” can still most definitely take off on the court.
“He’s a player. Now will he be able to coach someday? Yeah,” Bucks interim coach Joe Prunty said. “But I think the way he approaches the everyday game right now is going to help him when he goes into the next part of his career … He’s always thinking about different things on both sides of the floor.”
Last week against the Hawks, Terry picked off a pass and took off on the break before bouncing the ball between his legs to trailing teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo for a dunk.
While not as prolific from the 3-point line, Terry can still light it up. He is the active career leader and third on the NBA all-time list for 3-point field goals (2,255) going into the Bucks’ post All-Star break opener at Toronto on Friday.
Terry is playing a little more of late following injuries to guards Malcolm Brogdon (quad) and Matthew Dellavedova (ankle). Prunty recalls a three-minute stretch against Phoenix on Jan. 22 when he called Terry off the bench to defend high-scoring guard Devin Booker after Tony Snell got hurt and Brogdon left with foul trouble. Booker wound up with his worst shooting night of his season at 2 of 14.
“For those three minutes … Jet was great,” Prunty said. “He’s in the right spot. The defense — being able to guard your man — is great. But he’s helping other guys in the communication and doing all the little things. All of that … is invaluable.”
Staying in top shape is even more important for Terry at this stage. But his contributions off the floor have been just as important to the emerging Bucks.
Terry is the sage on a squad teeming with young talent. When he’s not on the floor, Terry is often one of the first Bucks on his feet at the sideline, waving his arms to celebrate a key play.
“It’s always tough not being out there on the floor and just using your voice. Guys respond to it a little bit,” Terry said. “When you’re out there in the fire with them, they respond a lot more.”
He was one of the few players on the team to have experienced a midseason coaching change when Prunty replaced the fired Jason Kidd. Terry not only lost a coach, but a good friend and former teammate.
But he’s been around long enough to understand the business of the NBA. Off the court, he’ll stay friends with Kidd.
“The dividing line is there … understanding that Coach Kidd didn’t get me the contract — the Milwaukee Bucks did,” Terry said. “I have a job to do and my job is to help them go forward in the future … continue to be a positive influence in the locker room and on the court. That’s what they signed me up to do and I’m going to see that all the way through.”
More AP basketball: www.apnews.com/tags/NBAbasketball