Derek Fisher was back in Oklahoma City Tuesday, practicing with the Thunder, readying for another playoff run. He will be suited up and ready to go on Wednesday when the Thunder host the Hornets.
When Fisher walks on the court, he will be wearing No. 6 — as in he is on a quest for his sixth ring. Thunder coach Scott Brooks wanted him back (after the Thunder moved Eric Maynor at the trade deadline) because of his steady presence in the locker room. The Thunder are hungry.
But Fisher doesn’t want this to be his last rodeo. From the Associated Press.
“I’m not planning on retiring at the end of the season but if this is my last season, I deserve this opportunity to be here with this group,” Fisher said. “So, that’s really what brought me back.”
We’d ask Marc Cuban about where Fisher deserves to be — remember he spent nine games with the Mavericks, tweaked his knee and asked out of his deal at the start of the season — but he is biting his tongue. Possibly literally.
Fisher seems realistic that this could be it — his game has deteriorated and he will be more locker room support and mop up guy than someone who will get minutes that matter in the playoffs. He hasn’t shot better than 40 percent since 2009 and hasn’t averaged more than 10 points a game since 2008. Next season teams are more likely to bring in young guards they can develop than put a 39-year-old Fisher on the end of the bench.
He thought that might be it when he left Dallas, but he’s not ready to give up.
“I knew that I still wanted to play the game. I knew I still had the love, the work ethic, the passion,” Fisher said. “The injury was a setback. The biggest struggle was for me, even after 16 years (in the NBA), playing in a different city, being away from my family. Those are things that I struggled with. But as I was leaving Dallas, I understood the risks that that could possibly be my last game or my last opportunity.”
It will be interesting to see where Brooks puts Fisher in his shrinking playoff rotations.