HANG TIME WEST – This is strangely perfect. Not the part about Derek Fisher in anything other than a Lakers uniform. That was a double-take when he played for the Warriors and Jazz and it will be an adjustment now that he has signed with the Thunder for the rest of the season, the final stop after being dealt from Los Angeles to Houston and then agreeing on a buyout with the Rockets.
But Oklahoma City is close to an ideal landing spot, in all ways apart from Fisher believing he could still start for a contender, and starting obviously won’t happen with Russell Westbrook there. It’s a good fit, though, so good that it had been logical as far back as two summers ago when Fisher was a free agent struggling to get the new contract he wanted from the Lakers. Fisher knew it then, too.
He goes well with a franchise that puts a high priority on character guys, rather than simply talk about it the way a lot of organizations do. Kevin Durant sets that tone internally in OKC and Fisher will be a continuation, not an adjustment. Along those lines, Fisher understands better than anyone how to ride shotgun to a superstar and maintain a strong leadership presence while being a complementary player.
As general manager Sam Presti said in making the Fisher signing official before Wednesday’s home game against the Clippers: “We’re looking for certain things, and not everybody fits that criteria.”
The Thunder have liked veterans with positive personality traits in the exact role before, backup point guards like Earl Watson and Kevin Ollie. Fisher, of course, is the epitome of the player whose greatest contributions won’t be tracked by statistics. He is about leadership and playoff experience and clutch production, all factors Oklahoma City wants as it tracks to a finish as the top-seeded team in the Western Conference.
“Considering I basically had the opportunity to basically chose the best situation and the right fit, there was no doubt after speaking with several teams that this was the best place and the best fit,” Fisher said.
Maybe he even gets to face the Lakers in the playoffs, with the additional motivation of the chance to show management there it made a mistake in acquiring Ramon Sessions from the Cavaliers to be the new starter and then splitting up the proven Kobe Bryant-Fisher backcourt. If nothing else, Fisher will have two regular-season reunions in Los Angeles, March 29 and April 22.