ORLANDO — The first phone call Jason Terry received when free agency began was from Doc Rivers, and that was all the convincing he needed to become a Celtic.
Terry will be introduced Saturday in Waltham as the newest Celtic after years of draining game-deciding 3-pointers as a member of the Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks. Terry, 34, essentially replaces Ray Allen as the team’s top 3-point shooter and also has the ability to score in bunches off the bench.
The former Sixth Man of the Year averaged 15.1 points and 31.7 minutes last season, mostly as a reserve with the Mavericks.
“I’m excited about competing for a championship and doing it with this group of guys,” Terry said by phone Friday. “KG [Kevin Garnett], [Rajon] Rondo, Paul Pierce, coach Doc Rivers. These guys are obviously Hall of Famers and they have one thing on their mind, and that’s winning. And that’s what I’m all about and I can’t wait to get that jersey on and get out there in front of the great Boston Celtic fans and perform at a high level.”
Terry’s No. 31 is retired in Boston (Cedric Maxwell), so he will wear No. 4 because he has four daughters. Terry helped the Mavericks win the 2011 NBA championship over the Miami Heat and is fourth all-time in 3-pointers, canning 1,788 during his 13-year career.
The Celtics need scoring off the bench after failing in that area last season. With Allen gone to Miami and Avery Bradley out until perhaps December, Terry is the starting shooting guard on Opening Night.
His role will be significant, given the Celtics’ offensive woes last season.
“I’m a young 34 and I stay in shape, I’ve been blessed over the years not to have any major injuries and I sort of pride myself on being an iron man,’’ Terry said. “I hate to miss games. I’m feeling great and playing with a point guard like Rondo, I know I am going to get plenty of opportunities to go out there and make an impact.
“It’s obvious, at 34 years old I’m not going to change my game. My game is to come out and play with a lot of energy and shoot [big shots]. I know their guy is Paul Pierce, there’s no question about he’s the man that finishes games for them, but now they have another option in myself that is not scared to take and make last-second shots. Whatever Doc wants me to do, I will do.”
Although Allen said he never felt like a priority for the Celtics, Terry said Boston was the first team to contact him.
“I’m still smiling,” said Terry, who said he is a Patriots fan because childhood friends Corey Dillon and Lawyer Milloy played for New England. “I was smiling when I answered the phone and heard it was [Rivers]. And then Danny [Ainge] called me a couple of days later and I was just grinning ear to ear, just because of the heritage, the history, and the tradition of the Boston Celtics, just being in that arena in front of these fans, it’s just a great opportunity.
“A lot of time in professional sports, you really don’t get to choose what team you’d like to play for, but me being a big fan of the Celtics from Larry [Bird] back in the day, it’s just going to be an honor to wear that uniform.”
Terry said he has exchanged text messages with Garnett, who asked him “Why not?” come to the Celtics when he was mulling his options.
But Rivers got right to the point.
“That conversation was like, ‘We want you. You’re our guy. You’re a priority No. 1 for us after we sign KG. We’re tired of you killing us,’ ’’ Terry said. “That made me feel good. I know he’s a great coach. He commands respect from all his players and it will be no different when I come into town.”Gary Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @gwashNBAGlobe.