It wasn’t surprising when news broke a few days ago that the Oklahoma City Thunder had signed veteran point guard Derek Fisher.
The Thunder had just traded third-strong point guard Eric Maynor to the Portland Trail Blazers a few days prior leaving second year man Reggie Jackson as the only backup to Russell Westbrook remaining on the roster.
Fisher had signed with the Thunder around the same time last season too and fit in pretty well for the most part becoming an important role player in the playoffs.
It’s a different situation this year though because Jackson has really emerged as a solid player of the Thunder bench.
Jackson is a tremendous athlete who defends really well and is growing leaps and bounds as a playmaker. You can see his confidence starting to really grow with the more playing time he earns.
The backup point guard slot is not a weakness for the Thunder right now. Jackson is doing a great job really and it won’t be like last year where Thunder head coach Scott Brooks immediately named Fisher the backup when he was signed.
Brooks did have some interesting comments about the situation however.
“Definitely, he will play,” so says Scott 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.”
This is not good news for the Thunder.
Brooks loves Fisher way too much. There’s nothing wrong with that because Fisher is by all accounts a great leader and mentor for this young Thunder squad but he is simply not needed right now.
Brooks loved using Fisher in crunch time last season and then, it kind of made sense, but still not really. He would use Fisher along with Russell Westbrook as the Thunder went small.
Thabo Sefolosha wasn’t getting crunch time minutes last season because the Thunder had James Harden. Sefolosha is this year one of the most important players for the Thunder and is Fisher is getting burn late in games over him, that won’t be a good trade off for the Thunder.
Then there is the fact that the Thunder just acquired Ronnie Brewer and also have Kevin Martin to find minutes for. Fisher just doesn’t fit in or is needed.
It seems like Brooks is committed to playing small going forward. So we know Kevin Durant will be ending most games at the four with Westbrook on the floor too.
Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins or Nick Collison will be at the five and then that leaves two spots for Fisher/Martin/Sefolosha/Brewer.
If Fisher is ever getting the nod over either of those three, it won’t be good news for the Thunder.
Fisher is really a liability on defense at this point in his career. Teams will take advantage of the Thunder’s switching defense to go at Fisher as much as possible. Is this really what the Thunder want their season to come down to? A 38-year old trying to check Dwyane Wade or Tony Parker?
The best case scenario is Fisher hardly playing at all. Maybe he will get hurt and Jackson will continue to play so well that even Brooks can’t come up with a reason to play him.
It’s starting to feel very likely that Fisher will once again become a very important piece to the Thunder this season and be closing out a lot of games. And it’s hard to imagine that working out in the Thunder’s favor.