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.
This not only changes the Kings dreams of making the playoffs in the West, it also alters the trade deadline and free agency.
Rudy Gay, the Kings wing and second-leading scorer, has been diagnosed with a torn left Achilles tendon, according to the team. During the third quarter of Wednesday night’s game against the Pacers, Gay drove out of the right corner and, untouched, fell to the floor hard. He had to be helped off the court by teammates.
Team doctors made the initial torn Achilles diagnosis, which will need to be confirmed by an MRI scheduled for Thursday. He would be out not only for this season but likely the start of the next one as well.
Without Gay, a lot more will fall on Matt Barnes and, once he returns from his calf injury in a couple of weeks, Omri Casspi. Those two are a drop off from what Gay brought to the Kings, and with that team’s playoff chances have taken a hit (they are 1.5 games out of the eight seed after Wednesday’s loss to the Pacers). Don’t be surprised if the Kings look to add a scorer at the trade deadline.
Gay was not happy in Sacramento and said he planned to opt out of the $14.3 million final year of his contract to be a free agent next summer, which made him someone potentially traded before the deadline (although the Kings being in the playoff hunt impacted that). Gay averaged 18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds a game for the Kings, and while his game was a little old school — more isolation and midrange shots than teams prefer — he put up points. Enough that he was drawing trade interest heading toward the deadline from Oklahoma City and other squads.
That is all off the table now. At age 30, if Gay does still opt out of his contract for next season this will impact what he would make on the free market.
Kevin Durant playing the Thunder invites extra emotions.
Russell Westbrook felt them – in the form of a flagrant foul by Warriors center Zaza Pachulia, who stood over Westbrook for emphasis.
Pachulia is really embracing his role doing the dirty work for star-studded Golden State.
That rumor No. 1 pick Ben Simmons won’t play this season?
It just won’t die.
Even after Simmons tried to quash it, even after the 76ers’ CEO outright denied it, even after Simmons returned to practice, even in an otherwise optimistic report.
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
76ers rookie forward Ben Simmons could make his much-anticipated NBA debut shortly after the All-Star break, league sources told ESPN.
Barring a setback in his recovery, sources say the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft has a chance to take the hardwood near March. There still remains the possibility Simmons sits the entire season, sources said, but his situation will continue to be thoroughly evaluated throughout his comeback quest.
76ers coach Brett Brown said there’s “no chance” Simmons plays in Philadelphia’s nationally televised game against the Rockets next week. Other than that, there isn’t much clarity.
It mostly sounds as if Simmons is still too far from returning to say something definitive.
The Hornets did so much right in their 107-85 win over the Trail Blazers, even a bad pass went through the hoop.
Roy Hibbert reacted fantastically to blunder/basket (blasket?).