From the moment the Lakers traded Derek Fisher to the Rockets, a buyout was heavily anticipated. The odds of Fisher remaining with an 8-ish seed for the remainder of a career in its severe twilight felt low. And even with Kyle Lowry sidelined, third-stringer Jonny Flynn traded to Portland, and the Rockets looking to make a playoff push, one never got the impression the front office was as interested in Fisher as the incoming first round pick. Thus, it was expected Fisher would eventually join a contender, and a decision didn't take long to materialize. ESPN.com's Marc Stein is reporting that Fisher and the Thunder have agreed to terms and the veteran will be paid with a portion of the team's mid-level exception. Royce Young from Daily Thunder is reporting the old man (cheekily wearing "37") will be in uniform tonight against the Clippers), and Sam Amick from SI has a copy of Fish's statement about joining a new club.
From minute one, the Thunder felt to me like the most logical destination. For starters, there's a need for his services. Eric Maynor's season-long absence has created a void at backup point guard yet to be productively filled by rookie Reggie Jackson or Royal Ivey. 10-15 minutes from Fisher could provide some utility and remove a ball-handling burden from James Harden in the second unit. The Thunder are a supremely talented team with a legitimate chance at a championship, but low on legitimate championship experience. Beyond Kendrick Perkins and Nazr Mohammed, both of whom have rings, nobody else has even been to the Finals. Fisher brings a serious helping of "been there, done that" to the table. And latching on with a Western Conference squad allows him a potential crack at the Lakers during the playoffs, and I'll go out on a limb and predict that prospect is mighty tantalizing to him.
Plus, unlike my brother, I'm aware of Oklahoma's proximity to Arkansas, where Fisher's from and his family resides.
Brian already posed the question of how scary the idea of facing Fisher in the playoffs would be. After watching him break hearts for so many years, it's incredibly easy to picture Fish drilling a dagger trey at the expense of the Lakers. At the same time, especially over the last season or two, with more consistent early buckets from Fisher, there may not have been a need for him to eventually play hero. His production has fallen off a cliff, otherwise he'd still be a Laker. In that respect, I agree with Brian that over the course of an entire game, the thought of staring down Fisher won't keep me awake at night.
Where I disagree with BK, however, is his assertion that playing Fisher during crunch time will be deemed more trouble than it's worth. By definition, I think any team that signs Fisher does so with visions of him playing with the money on the line, because that's the one time he's consistently come through at this stage of his career. I'm not saying he'll close games on a regular basis, but I do think the opportunity will present itself on at least a handful of occasions, and Scott Brooks will roll the dice. Otherwise, I think you're negating what's arguably the most tangible asset Fisher still as to offer on the court. Brian rightly notes there really isn't such a thing as a situational lefty in baseball, but as I wrote as he left L.A., there also haven't been a lot of role players like Derek Fisher. Sometimes, exceptions prove the rule.
In any event, we'll have two opportunities (March 29 at Staples, April 22 in OKC) to see how this dynamic plays out before the postseason even begins. Never a dull moment, huh?
And keeping with the "former Lakers fan favorites and close friends of Kobe Bryant now playing with the enemy" theme, Ronny Turiaf, recently waived by the Nuggets after being traded there from Washington, just signed a deal with the Miami Heat. Not an easy day for Laker fans who double as sentimental fools.