HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — For months, Derek Fisher‘s face and voice were all over the place.
The lockout, and whatever good or bad came of it, seemed to have Fisher’s fingerprints all over it. No one looked more measured or steadfast during the lockout and no one more relieved when it was finally over.
But now, just days after his stunning trade from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Houston Rockets and the news that the Rockets would buy out the remainder of his contract, Fisher is in limbo.
Fisher has been silent since the trade, the only statement from his camp coming from his spokesman Jamie Wior:
“After much discussion and expressing their desire to welcome Derek to their team this season as well as the 2012-2013 season, the Houston Rockets and Derek have negotiated a buyout.
“Derek’s desire to win a sixth championship is what drives him and will continue to drive him as he moves forward. We thank the Rockets front office for their interest, time and their absolute professionalism.
“There will be no further comment this time.”
It’s understandable. Fisher probably needs a little time to process it all before deciding on his next move. He’s been through an exhausting nine months, dating to the Lakers’ playoff sweep at the hands of the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks last spring.
One thing that the new collective bargaining agreement makes clear, though, is that Fisher will not be re-signing with the Lakers. He can’t do that before July 1.
So chasing that sixth championship will have to be done elsewhere, with another contender. And two of the most obvious places where a veteran point guard with Fisher’s clutch-shooting ability might come in handy are the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat.
Fisher isn’t a normal 37-year-old point guard. He played in 537 consecutive games, tops in the league, before the trade. And everyone knows about his place in Lakers’ lore and how pivotal he was with his clutch shooting throughout his career.
The Thunder clearly have a need, with Eric Maynor, Russell Westbrook‘s normal backup, out for the season. And according to Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman, the Thunder have to consider pursuing Fisher, even if it seems a bit strange to add a former rival to the roster:
For 3 1/2 seasons, Oklahoma City has opted to grow organically, to build through the draft and develop from within. But now that a championship is within reach this season, it should be a no-brainer for the Thunder to take a one-year flier on Fisher.
The Thunder’s roster is at the maximum of 15 players, meaning someone would have to be waived before Fisher could come to town. That player likely would be forward Ryan Reid. But the Thunder would have a good chance at assigning Reid to the Tulsa 66ers and allowing him to remain close to the organization.
If anybody is worth it, Fisher is.
For 15 seasons, Fisher has given his teams toughness, durability, clutch shooting, lockdown defense and first-rate leadership and professionalism. The Thunder could use every one of those traits now and when the playoffs start in the near future.
Rookie backup Reggie Jackson would have to take a backseat for the time being. But learning from Fisher for the final 20 games and the postseason wouldn’t be a bad thing. In fact, it’d be a bonus.
The Heat also have a rookie, Norris Cole, working as their primary backup behind Mario Chalmers. Fisher’s addition doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a stunting of the Cole’s growth. What young point guard couldn’t stand to learn a little from a guy with Fisher’s track record?
Fisher is the guy who will make the ultimate decision, as there will be no shortage of teams inquiring about his services for the remainder of this season. In addition to the Thunder and Heat, contenders in both conferences (the Spurs, Magic, Bulls and even the Clippers all come to mind) will surely be making calls to get a feeling for what Fisher is thinking.