Why Did The Thunder Sign Derek Fisher?
Déjà vu? In a move that wasn’t too shocking, the Oklahoma City Thunder has announced the signing of veteran guard Derek Fisher. With the team having just two point guards on its roster – starter Russell Westbrook and backup Reggie Jackson – and the playoffs looming, Fisher’s steadiness should prove valuable once again.
Recall that Fisher signed with the Thunder last March to shore up the position following Eric Maynor’s season-ending injury. He was acquired expressly for their 2011-12 playoff run which ended in an NBA Finals loss in favor of the Miami HEAT. Maynor, who had yet to return to his pre-injury playing level, was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers last week. Once again, Oklahoma City found themselves in need of being better-prepared for another try at a title.
Said Thunder general manager and executive vice president Sam Presti in his brief statement regarding the Fisher acquisition: “We are excited to welcome Derek back to the Thunder organization. He contributed to our team in various ways last season, and we are looking forward to him joining us again.”
Though the contract terms have not been disclosed, the Fisher signing appears a low-risk move. Thunder players should again respond favorably to his mature voice of experience and infectious locker room presence. He still has plenty of advice to share with his younger teammates, bringing five championship rings along with him. Hopefully, he will serve to directly calm the oft-emotional Westbrook.
In Fisher’s 20 regular games last season in Oklahoma City, he averaged 4.9 points and 1.4 assists in 20.4 minutes, and in 20 playoff games, he averaged 6.3 points and 1.3 assists in 22.3 minutes.
Last November, Fisher signed with the Dallas Mavericks (8.6 points and 3.4 assists in 25.4 minutes), but it ended up being a short-term pairing. After just nine games, he suffered a knee injury and asked for a release even though his recovery was projected to last just two weeks. At the time, Fisher said he desired the departure to spend more time with his family, yet he refused to close the door on playing again.
It remains to be seen what kind of minutes Fisher will see with the Thunder or if the 38-year-old will bump Jackson to the third position, but such answers should come very soon. What the signing boils down to is a matter of insurance. Facing the postseason with two point guards and no James Harden meant the team had to do something.
Fisher is a proven commodity; he already knows coach Scott Brooks’ system and the players respect him immensely. He has appeared in 229 career playoff games – starting in 158 of them – in over 16 years in the league. Fisher should again serve as a positive influence on the franchise while serving as a wise mentor to the playoff-limited team. The Thunder knows exactly what they’re getting. He’s not a game-changer; rather he knows his role and plays it well.