NBA Sunday: Fisher Still Hasn’t Shown Up
Derek Fisher Still Hasn’t Shown Up
In most cases, a player has 48 hours to report to his new team after a trade. At press time, it had been something like 66 hours since long-time L.A. Laker Derek Fisher was traded to the Houston Rockets, and as of Saturday night’s game—against the Clippers, in L.A., no less—he still hadn’t shown up.
“I haven’t seen Derek yet,” said Houston head coach Kevin McHale before Saturday’s loss to the Clippers. “He’s not here. If he was here he’d play. He’s not here.”
In truth, Houston really could’ve used him in Saturday night’s game, as they were playing with a very thin frontcourt. No Kyle Lowry, no Kevin Martin. Only Goran Dragic was qualified and experienced enough to run the point (and he did so for 45 of 48 possible minutes), and a veteran point guard like Fisher certainly couldn’t have hurt anything in so narrow a defeat.
According to ESPNLosAngeles.com, however, the Lakers and Rockets agreed to give Fisher an extra day (72 hours instead of the usual 48) to report, likely so Houston could have to time to manufacture a buyout without Fisher without his having to play for a team with no shot of winning a championship.
There had been rumors that he could perhaps latch on with San Antonio, who needed help at point guard following the loss of T.J. Ford to retirement/trade, but it was announced yesterday that the Spurs had signed free agent point man Patty Mills on his way back from China, and that changed everything.
Mills, a Portland Trail Blazer last season, was a player Houston had been hoping to add to supplement Dragic as a third-string point guard, particularly to help with depth in the backcourt while Lowry healed. His signing with San Antonio not only took away a potentially great fit for Fisher, then, but it also left Houston needing help at the point. In other words, it might not be a slam dunk anymore that the Rockets waive Fisher.
And if that’s the case, he’ll have to report in time for Sunday night’s game in Phoenix. He might not like it, but he also might not have much of a choice.
It must be difficult to be subjected to that much change that late in one’s career, but it is the nature of the business. Fisher is a great guy who obviously would have loved to retire a Laker, but if that’s not going to happen, the show must go on. Whether it goes on with Houston, somebody else, or as a new retiree, we’ll just have to wait to find out.
Evan Turner Transitioning to Starting Role
It’s been seven games since Philadelphia 76ers swingman Evan Turner was made a starter, and the experiment has, thus far, gone pretty well. Before Saturday night’s loss in Chicago, Turner had scored 13 or more point in five straight games, and there were a couple of monster double-doubles in that stretch, as well.
But things didn’t always look so rosy for Turner, who despite getting drafted second overall by the Sixers in the summer of 2010, took a while to find himself as an NBA player. Now, though, as a starter, that finally seems to be changing.
“You get a better rhythm as you get more playing time. I think that’s key, building rhythm and getting in the flow of the game and developing,” Turner told HOOPSWORLD.
That development, though, has more to it than just lifting weights and watching tape.
“I had to develop as a person,” Turner added, “becoming mentally stronger, not worrying about what people think. There’s a lot of stuff that goes on, and you learn that people judge you or focus on negative things.
“I think last year as a player I got better and helped my team out… but no matter what occurred last year people still just focus on negative, negative, negative, so you worry about what people think. I just had to worry about doing the right thing and growing as a person and a player.”
It’s hard for young players to tune out that negativity, and there’s no question it affected Turner as a rookie. Eventually, though, like all players do, he learned to tune it out.
“After a while you just realize it was ignorant,” he said. “I don’t worry about the B.S.”
Now, he’s starting for a promising Sixers team with high hopes for the rest of the season and beyond. The team, in turn, has high hopes for the rest of Turner’s career, which finally appears to be taking off.
That’s good, too, because this is a group that needs someone to step up and show some star power. Perhaps Turner, once criticized for not living up to his draft status, could transform into that guy. If he figures out how to play as well as he’s done as a starter thus far, that’s a real possibility.
John Lucas III: Deep Bench Firecracker
Even though Linsanity has grown increasingly less Linsane over the course of the last couple of weeks, we’ve definitely learned our lesson about burying great talent at the end of NBA benches. So many players, if given the opportunity, can come into a game and show flashes of stardom.
Chicago’s third-string point guard John Lucas III has proven that on a few occasions this season, usually with Derrick Rose sitting because of one injury or another, and a recent explosion in a win over the Miami HEAT put his name back on the map.
Ask Lucas himself, though, and praise for doing something as trivial as scoring a ton of points in a game will get shrugged off like sweat from a ball player’s forehead. Success is old hat for this son of an NBA legend.
“I grew up in the game of basketball, so I would never do anything to disrespect the game,” Lucas told HOOPSWORLD. “That’s why I always continue to work hard and never get discouraged if I don’t play or if I’m not playing. I’m always cheering my team on. I’m the first one to get off the bench when somebody takes a charge or do anything. I love the game, and when you love the game, you compete. If you’re as competitive as I am, when you get the opportunity you try and go with it.”
With an NBA dad like John Lucas II, the third John Lucas couldn’t help but absorb some of the lifestyle simply by coming of age within the culture of the NBA. That, he says, has helped make big moments in big games a lot easier to handle.
“You don’t get starstruck,” Lucas said, grinning. “I’ve been around Michael Jordan, George Gervin, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Kareem. I’ve been around all of these guys at a young age and I used to play one-on-one with them because my dad always had me around.
“I started off being a ball boy at the age of five years old,” he added. “It got to the point where I was even rebounding for the guys because I felt like I was supposed to get my shots up, too.”
In short, even though this kid doesn’t get as many minutes as some players in this league, he’s probably got a heck of a lot more experience.
“I was like a sponge soaking everything up, and then my father being an NBA player and also a head basketball coach in the league, he’d tell me ‘Look, this is what this team’s going to do off the pick-and-roll, they’re going to do this, they’re going to do that, so here’s the counter.’ We’d constantly watch film together, so you have your advantages.”
Lucas is a remarkably optimistic young man who seems to have a found a specific, albeit small, niche on a very good pro basketball team.
“You’ve always got to stay ready,” Lucas said. “I’m always the first one in the gym and the last one to leave the gym. I make shots, stay well-conditioned. Do my weights, keep my routine going because you never know, especially with as many games in a short season this year, there are going to be injures. There’s going to be something where your number’s going to be called, so it’s just all about you staying ready.”
So far, that’s exactly what Lucas has done, and it’s why he’s proven to be one of the most valuable 11th men in the NBA.