That could create a delicate situation, although the hope is that Fisher can serve as a mentor to Collison, who the Mavs need to play well in a reserve role.
“Darren’s still one of our best players and I’ve made that clear to him,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “One of the reasons we’ve had success here in recent years is we’ve had starting-caliber players playing off the bench.
“There are areas where Darren’s going to get better. I see him as a guy who is still developing. And I can’t imagine a better situation for a point guard than being at practice every day with Derek Fisher. I think it’s great."
Collison, who expressed his displeasure in a professional manner after Dominique Jones replaced him in the starting lineup during Tuesday’s loss to the 76ers, was not available after he participated in Friday’s practice. He was getting treatment on the sprained right middle finger that caused him to miss Wednesday’s loss to Chicago Bulls.
Fisher said he had talked to Collison but didn’t want to come on too strong with immediate advice about how the young point guard should handle the situation.
“There are for sure ways that I can help, there’s things that I can say, there’s things that I’ll do daily that can help Darren,” Fisher said. “But I’m not here to shadow over him and to be over him. We’re going to be besides each other as we move through this, and as point guards we’re going to be expected to lead this team.”
Collison has struggled since a spectacular start with the Mavs, who have lost eight of 11 games after beginning the season 4-1. However, Fisher made a point to gush about Collison’s potential, going so far as to claim that Collison could develop into one of the top five or 10 point guards in the NBA.
“Part of being in this business you’re going to have those stretches where things don’t go so well,” Fisher said. “Those guys that are able to weather those storms and those setbacks and that adversity and come back and continue to grind and push and be the player they can be, that’s what makes you who you are, that’s what creates champions. From what I’ve seen of Darren I think he has that in him, that’s what he wants, that’s why they got him here.
“Our relationship will develop and mature each day that goes by and as time goes by, And I don’t think we’ll have a problem at all working together to get the best out of this team.”
Carlisle said Fisher and Collison could be used together for stretches, much like the Mavs used Jason Kidd with J.J. Barea during their championship run. Carlisle dismissed concerns about how Collison would handle the disappointment of losing his starting job so early in the season.
“Darren wants to win,” Carlisle said. “He and I talk every single day and the biggest thing for him is he wants to win. This is going to be a great situation for him and it’s going to help our team.”