I saw the addition of Derek Fisher as a great thing, as a perfect move to bring in a great locker room voice and added roster insurance. A very sensible, smart thing to do with an open roster slot available.
But that was assuming he wasn’t going to be jumping right back into the rotation because surely not, right?
“Definitely, he will play,” so says Scott Brooks.
More Brooks: “Does he take spots on the floor, minutes from other guys? To have a good team you have to have sacrifices from everybody.”
“Minutes are going to be had, minutes are probably going to be taken away from many guys. Not just because of Derek Fisher, but as the season goes on, sometimes the rotations become smaller.”
Last season’s circumstances were much different when Fisher joined the team. Eric Maynor was down and out with an ACL injury and the Thunder were facing a postseason having to rely on a rookie point guard as Russell Westbrook’s backup. It was clear Reggie Jackson wasn’t ready, that he needed some more time to learn and grow.
This season, it’s changed. Jackson has developed considerably, becoming a quality second unit player and someone that’s earned his minutes. He’s versatile, athletic and seems to be building confidence and understanding his role better and better. Early on, it appeared he was a little hesitant to let loose and play while Maynor was still looking over his shoulder. After it became clear the job was his, Jackson blossomed some as a playmaker. Nothing spectacular, but certainly encouraging.
Is Fisher going to usurp Jackson again? We’ll learn more over the next week or so, but the fact any minutes are going Fisher’s way and not directed to the likes of Jackson, Jeremy Lamb, Nick Collison, Thabo or whoever, is a bad thing. Fisher can still hit a corner 3 and was fairly productive for OKC last season, but his defense is awful and even six minutes on the floor for him means six minutes less for someone else. I don’t get that. Seems to me it flies in the face of the Thunder developmental philosophy too. Instead of giving spot minutes to a young player to get him adapted and comfortable, a 38-year-old on a three-month rental is going to get that time.
Again, I think bringing Fisher back is a very sensible, smart move. It makes a ton of sense. And even playing him in spots isn’t the worst thing ever, much in the same way Royal Ivey sometimes saw time, or even Daequan Cook. But we all know what happened last season with Fisher’s playing time growing to the point where he was seeing upwards of 30 minutes in the NBA Finals. And if he’s set to “definitely” play, it’s natural to feel that he’s going to play a lot. Likely at the expense of Jackson.
“My tank is much more full showing up this year than it was last year,” Fisher said. “So I plan on being more impactful and more effective than I was for the team last year.”
So what about this destroying Jackson’s confidence?
“That’s hypothetical,” Brooks said.
It would also be likely.
Here’s what Fisher said of his role: “I’ve come here without any sense of entitlement or expectation … Whatever role or whatever opportunities Scotty and the team sees for me in terms of being helpful, that’s what I’m willing to play.
“I think Reggie Jackson has played really solid basketball and deserves the opportunity to continue to play,” Fisher said. “So Scotty will make those decisions.”
As Brooks was pressed on it a bit more, he was very coy about his rotations and playing time. He danced around anything direct about how much Fisher would play or if he’d be in the rotation. That is a little different change in tune from last season when Fisher was signed and Brooks immediately declared that he would be Westbrook’s backup.
So we’ll just have to sort of wait and see what happens with the rotations and playing time. Will we get an idea Wednesday against the Hornets? Will both Ronnie Brewer and Fisher be active?
Said Brooks: “Ask me tomorrow.”
On why he chose No. 6: “For sure, kind of symbolizing and serving as motivation for myself that winning at the end of the day, is what this all about. It symbolizes for me in terms of No. 6, but it also symbolizes for me the reason why I’m here to be part of this team and that’s to get No. 1.”