ATLANTA — Jason Terry will remain with the Atlanta Hawks after the team matched the three-year, $22.5 million offer sheet the free agent guard signed with the Utah Jazz.
"This is where I always wanted to be," said Terry, who averaged 16.1 points in his first four seasons.
He spoke at a news conference Thursday with seven of the team's eight prospective new owners in attendance.
Terry said he had been apprehensive about the future of the team before AOL Time Warner announced a deal on Sept. 16 to sell the Hawks, the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers and operating rights to Philips Arena for $250 million to an eight-man ownership group including Boston businessman Steve Belkin.
The sale still must by approved by the respective leagues. Belkin said the contract agreement with Terry was reached with the cooperation of Time Warner officials.
The 6-foot-2 Terry, who plays shooting guard and point guard, had a career-high average of 7.2 assists last season to go along with his 17.2 points per game.
"He exemplifies everything we like in our players, in his ability to play more than one position and his character on the court and off the court," Hawks general manager Billy Knight said.
Though Terry expressed a desire to complete his career with the Hawks, he said he was serious when he signed the offer sheet with the Jazz on Sept. 11.
"I think Utah is a great situation for any free agent to step into with the departures of Karl Malone and John Stockton," Terry said.
Added Terry: "Once the new (Hawks) owners came in and I met with them and I saw the enthusiasm they had, it really changed my outlook." Terry said he was helping to recruit free agent guard Stephen Jackson, who won a championship last season as the starting shooting guard for the San Antonio Spurs. When Terry played college ball at Arizona and Jackson visited the school on a recruiting trip, Terry was Jackson's host.
"I've been on the phone already … trying to get him to join us," Terry said. "(Jackson) is a pretty good friend of mine."
Terry, center Theo Ratliff and power forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim are the returning starters for the Hawks. The team traded Glenn Robinson, last season's leading scorer, to the Philadelphia 76ers in July — a move made for financial reasons as it put the Hawks below the league's expected luxury tax threshold.
With 10 players now signed to guaranteed contracts, the Hawks are shopping for one or two players who may immediately step into major roles.
Jackson can play shooting guard or small forward, and the Hawks still have vacancies at both positions. Hawks officials see Jackson, who averaged 11.8 points with San Antonio last season, as a perfect fit.
The Hawks also may re-sign guard Dion Glover, a part-time starter last season who as a free agent continues to work out at Philips Arena. Glover likely would join Terry in the Hawks' starting backcourt.
Though Knight said negotiations with Terry "took longer than we would like," there was no apparent bitterness that Terry had signed the offer from Utah as a restricted free agent.
"It's normal for a player to want to explore the market and see what his value is," Knight said.
The Hawks open training camp Tuesday for rookies and players with no more than three years experience. Veterans join camp on Oct. 2.