HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Mavericks officials were quick to pump up Darren Collison‘s confidence upon trading for him in July, saying they had him “penciled” in as the the starting point guard after he lost his Indiana starting job late last season.
Well, they’ve picked up the eraser, so to speak, with coach Rick Carlisle’s announcement Wednesday night that the club is turning to the steadying hand of 38-year-old and previously out-of-work Derek Fisher. Dallas made it official Thursday afternoon.
After a fast start, Collison’s building demise — shrinking shooting percentages (43.8 overall, 31.6 on 3s), rising turnover rate (2.53/game) and turnstile defense — convinced Carlisle he’d seen enough to bench him Friday at Philadelphia after just 14 games — all without the benefit of playing with Dirk Nowitzki — and to do so without a more reliable replacement option than two-year bench-warmer Dominique Jones.
A sprained right middle finger sustained in the Philly loss kept Collison out of Wednesday’s ugly defeat at Chicago, Dallas’ eighth in the last 11 games to fall to 7-9. Afterward, Carlisle announced the agreement with Fisher by saying: “We need help at the point-guard position. It’s challenging for us. I don’t see (Fisher) as a cure-all, but he can help.”
Carlisle certainly seemed to suggest that the five-time champ with the Lakers will hop off the street and into the starting lineup:
“I loved the way he played in Philly,” Carlisle was quoted in the Dallas Morning News, noting Collison’s high-energy performance off the bench. “I think that’s a great role for him right now. I think Fisher can help us as a starter. This is a great opportunity for Darren to develop into a true starting point guard in this league.
“I really like Darren Collison as a player, and I like him even better as a person. But putting him in a position to be the starter on this team right now isn’t fair to him. With Derek coming in, it’s a great opportunity for Darren to learn from one of the greatest winners in the history of the game.”
The pending Fisher addition not only illustrates Collison’s frustrating inconsistency this first month, but the Mavs’ overall dire situation at the position, one turned down by Deron Williams and then stunningly vacated by Jason Kidd.
Dallas waived its best on-court talent Delonte West before the season because of recurring issues off the court deemed detrimental to the team. Rodrigue Beaubois has been so disappointing that he’s out of the rotation and 24th-overall pick Jared Cunningham hasn’t seen the light of day.
To add Fisher, the Mavs waived forward Troy Murphy, who signed a non-guaranteed deal on Nov. 2. Murphy is the third player the transitioning Mavs have cut in the last month, including West and center Eddy Curry.
Dallas not been as many as two games under .500 this deep into a season since Carlisle’s first campaign in 2008-09. In a congested and competitive Western Conference, they’re desperately seeking stability in Nowitzki’s absence and as a road-heavy schedule stiffens.