MILWAUKEE — As teammates changed around him in the locker room and made postgame dinner plans, guard Jason Terry eased forward in his seat at his locker, still in full uniform.
The elder statesman of the Milwaukee Bucks is savoring another trip to the playoffs.
The 39-year-old Terry can still provide energy off the bench and bury 3s as he approaches the end of his 18th NBA season. He will make a 12th appearance in the postseason in the last 13 years after the Bucks clinched a playoff berth.
Perhaps just as importantly for the young Bucks, Terry is a respected presence in the locker room.
“He’s probably the best vet in the league as far as being a locker-room guy, a leader and having a voice,” rookie point guard Malcolm Brogdon said Monday after the Bucks’ 89-79 win over Charlotte . “He’s been a great, calming voice for us.”
Joining the Bucks this season allowed Terry to play for coach Jason Kidd, a former teammate from the Dallas Mavericks. In Milwaukee, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker, a pair of 22-year-old forwards, are the faces of the franchise, though the Bucks needed better outside shooting, backcourt help and veteran leadership at the start of the year.
Terry has capably filled all three roles, highlighted by season bests of 15 points and five 3-pointers in the victory over the Hornets . The win allowed the Bucks to clinch at least the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference and ensure the franchise’s first winning season since 2009-10.
“For me, this is my 12th year … going to the playoffs and for Giannis as he said he just wants to be a winner. Well this is the first step,” Terry said. “It’s all been a building block-type of season. I’m proud of our guys and we got a ways to go.”
Terry averages 4.2 points and 18.6 minutes, having played in 73 games. While he may not be as quick as when he first joined the league with Atlanta in 1999 as a first-round draft pick out of Arizona, he still provides a pesky defensive presence off the bench, and a quick release on 3-point shots.
There’s a reason Terry has earned the nickname “The Jet.”
“It just goes to show that if you know how to play, you can play in this league,” Kidd said. “If you take care of yourself and do all the right things, you can live in this league for a long time and have an impact, at no matter what age.”
Terry’s first playoff appearance came with the Mavericks in 2004-5, the start of an eight-year postseason run in Dallas. The highlight came in 2011 when a team that included Kidd and Terry beat the Miami Heat in six games to win the NBA Finals. Terry helped close out the series with 27 points on 11-of-16 shooting, including 3 of 7 from the 3-point line in Game 6 for Dallas.
He moved to Boston in 2012-13 before a postseason-less year in 2013-14 when he got hurt with the Brooklyn Nets and was later traded to Sacramento. Two more playoff appearances followed with Houston before he signed with the Bucks this season. Terry entered 2016-17 as the active leader in career 3-pointers (2,169).
His addition gave the Bucks a boost from the outside, especially earlier in the year while Khris Middleton was sidelined for 50 games with a hamstring injury. Lately, Terry has helped guide the team through tough times after the Bucks struggled the first few weeks following Parker’s season-ending left knee injury in February.
“He is a veteran player, he is a pro’s pro,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said about Terry. “If he is halfway open he is going to knock it in. He has been doing that for a long time.”