Rockets to buy out contract of Derek Fisher

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The Lakers needed to move Derek Fisher for political reasons in the locker room — can you have a guy the Lakers fans love and the team signed because Kobe Bryant wanted him to sitting at the end of the bench? Almost never in the game? His play warrants him sitting, but fans won’t see it that way. Media would ask Kobe what he thought, it would be a topic for talk radio, it would be a distraction the Lakers don’t need.

The Rockets traded for him but they really don’t need him either — so they are going to buy out his contract. That according to a tweet from Fran Blinebury of NBA.com.

Fisher has a player option for $3.4 million for next season that he certainly was going to pick up. The Rockets will certainly have to compensate him for that.

Once he is bought out, he will be a free agent. There was interest from the Miami Heat last year, and it wouldn’t be stunning to see a contender or near contender add him for the stretch run.

And no, the Lakers are not going to be that team. Aside the reasons mentioned above, the CBA prevents the Lakers from re-signing him until July after trading him.

Also, we have to say this — Fisher the player does not bring much at all to the table any more. On any contending team he is likely the third point guard (as he would have been in Los Angeles behind Ramon Sessions and Steve Blake). Lakers fans are understandably sentimental about him, but the reality is if he were any other player with another franchise he would not have gotten his last contract. A team might bring him in now to provide championship experience in the locker room and a little guard depth, but he can’t contribute much on the court anymore. Even in the final seconds.

This ending is not how I will choose to remember Fisher. But this is pretty much the end.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

AP Photo/Nick Wass
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.

Pacers president Kevin Pritchard likes tweets critical of Paul George trade

AP Photo/Darron Cummings
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Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard was widely panned – including by me – for trading Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

Oops.

Oladipo and Sabonis are killing it while George has underwhelmed.

Upon George’s return to Indiana, Pritchard took the opportunity to gloat. The Pacers general manager recently liked these tweets (hat tip: Matt Ellentuck of SB Nation):

This is petty – and I love it. Pritchard earned the victory lap.

Report: Rival executives still expect Paul George to leave Thunder for Lakers

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Paul George has been pretty open about his plans.

He told plenty of people – including the Pacers – he planned to leave for the Lakers in the summer of 2018. Even after the Thunder traded for him, George spoke of the lure of playing for his hometown team.

Of course, George also left the door open to re-signing with Oklahoma City. He proclaimed he’d be dumb to leave if the Thunder reached the conference finals or upset the Warriors.

So far, Oklahoma City (12-14) doesn’t even look like a playoff lock, let alone a team capable of knocking off Golden State or reaching the conference finals. So, cue the inevitable speculation.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

Rival execs still expect Paul to head for the Lakers in free agency

Do these executives have inside information into George’s thinking, or are they just speculating based on already-available information? Some executives are incentivized to drum up the Lakers threat, because they want to trade for George themselves now. If these executives insist George will leave for Los Angeles regardless, they might pry him from Oklahoma City for less.

There’s also a theory George is hyping his desire to sign with the Lakers so a team would have to trade less for him. That got him to the Thunder for what looked like a meager return (but hasn’t been). It might get him to a more favorable situation before the trade deadline without hampering his next team long-term. Of course, this theory isn’t mutually exclusive with George actually signing in Los Angeles. It could just get him better options to choose from this summer.

Surely, the Thunder are trying to parse all this noise. If their season doesn’t turn around, they should explore flipping George rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer. But they should also be wary that he’ll bolt for Los Angeles at first opportunity just because rival executives predict it.