The Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder have emerged as the early leaders in the race to sign veteran guard Derek Fisher after he clears waivers on Wednesday, according to sources close to the situation.
With the Chicago Bulls needing another big man more than another guard and the San Antonio Spurs still hopeful that they can complete the signing of guard Patrick Mills by week’s end, sources told ESPN.com that Miami and Oklahoma City are the current frontrunners to land Fisher, who was formally waived Monday night by the Houston Rockets.
As Stein wisely notes, Kevin Durant now shares the same agent as Fisher in Rob Pelinka, which might have some kind of factor in this. But as for what “frontrunner” means, it could be that Fisher has zeroed in on the Heat and Thunder. Or it could mean that those teams and Fisher have mutual interest. Hard to know.
Here’s the thing: Derek Fisher isn’t that good anymore. He’s a poor defender and doesn’t add a whole lot offensively other than the ability to knock down an open 3. The thing everyone cites that he adds is veteran leadership and championship mettle. Those two things aren’t exactly tangible items and while I do believe they exist, the question is whether or not you go sign a guy just for them.
Would he be a better backup point guard than Reggie Jackson? I don’t know. Probably. Here’s a better question: Would you feel better about him playing eight minutes in the Western Finals or Jackson? I think I’d choose Fisher. But then again, I’d actually feel pretty good about Royal Ivey getting those minutes as well instead of Jackson. Which I think might be an even better question to ask: Would you rather have Fisher, or Ivey as your backup point guard?
The Thunder did browse the market at the trade deadline for point guard help according to a league source, but that’s not really a surprising thing. The front office naturally was going to look to improve the team if the right option was there. Like, what if nobody made Cleveland an offer for Ramon Sessions and all it took was a second round pick. You make that call, you know? But with Fisher potentially falling right into the Thunder’s lap, it could work out rather well.
It’s not even a guarantee he’d become the backup point guard though. That role could still fall to Jackson. Maybe the Thunder just want Fisher’s experience in the locker room. Maybe they feel his voice would blend well in there. There’s no doubt Fisher is a tremendous teammate and an outstanding leader, but is that enough to pay him and cut a player?
Fisher clears waivers on Wednesday. So I guess we’ll probably know then.