The Oklahoma City Thunder are a young team that doesn’t have much championship pedigree. But that has changed with the team signing former Lakers point guard Derek Fisher – he of the five championship rings – to a contract for the rest of the season.
Fisher signed with the Thunder for the remainder of the season Wednesday, not quite a week after he was traded to Houston by the Lakers and subsequently bought out of his contract instead of playing with the Rockets. He had five points in 19 minutes in Wednesday’s 114-91 win over the Clippers.
The Thunder lost their backup point guard, Eric Maynor, to a season-ending knee injury in January but hadn’t made any moves to address the position. All-Star Russell Westbrook had been taking on extra minutes as the starter, with rookie Reggie Jackson taking over as his backup.
Then Fisher became available when the Lakers decided to acquire Ramon Sessions from Cleveland and promote Steve Blake to the starter. Fisher had won five titles alongside Kobe Bryant in two separate stints with the Lakers, with stops in Utah and Golden State in between. Fisher was due to earn $3.4 million next season under the terms of his contract with the Lakers. But he surrendered all of next season’s salary after being traded to Houston last week to secure a buyout from the Rockets and the opportunity to pick a contender to join for the stretch run.
“He brings a lot of those things in the locker room that we need,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks acknowledged before his team throttled the Clippers 114-91, “but we still need him to play basketball.”
Fisher has been in the NBA for 15-plus seasons. He’s won five championships. He’s been to the playoffs 13 times. Fisher had worn a No. 2 jersey when he played for the Lakers but chose to wear 37 with the Thunder, “because it’s my age.” Fisher will return to Los Angeles when the Thunder faces the Lakers at Staples Center on March 29.
“The Thunder needed him,” Lakers star Kobe Bryant said. “He brings a lot of stability and obviously veteran leadership, and he can make big shots.”