Derek Fisher is in really good shape, but even he can’t escape the inevitable. At 38 years of age and with something like 1400 games on his tires, retirement is just around the corner. Does he want to go out as a mercenary who spends a year with this team and then a year with that team, never really getting a shot to play for one final NBA title? Or would he rather retire in purple and gold – adorned in the only uniform people really associate him with anyway?
Currently, Fisher is a free agent. After something of an underwhelming stint with the Oklahoma City Thunder (he was traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Houston Rockets, dumped by Houston, and then picked up by OKC), Fisher is a man without a country. There were some murmurs about him possibly re-signing with the Thunder or maybe joining up with the Chicago Bulls, but so far nothing has materialized. The general consensus seems to be that Fisher is waiting to see if anyone gets hurt before inking a deal; however, nobody has given any real inclination that they are interested in the 16-year vet.
So, given his limited options, is him reuniting with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers a realistic possibility? According to ESPN’s Marc Stein – yes. Per the report:
It's not feasible for the Lakers to bring back Fisher now, with a payroll approaching $100 million, but sources with knowledge of their thinking say that the team has made it clear to the rest of the league that Chris Duhon and/or Steve Blake are available via trade to any interested party willing to absorb their respective contracts.
While it's true that no trade is imminent in either case, that's also the norm in October when outlooks are still rosy in pretty much every NBA training camp and teams generally aren't ready to move. Could the Lakers eventually find a taker for one of those vets? Blake has one season left on his contract after this one valued at $4 million, but Duhon's $3.75 million salary in 2013-14 is unguaranteed, which makes his contract a more attractive acquisition.
Even though Fisher and L.A. brass didn’t part ways on the best of terms last year, he always was and always will be a Laker. That’s just a fact. If the team can finagle a way to shed some dead weight from the roster, if a spot opens up, and if Fisher is willing to come in and just be a motivational leader from the bench – there will be a place for him. But those are three pretty big ifs.
More likely than not, Fisher’s future with the Lakers will be determined by whether or not any other championship contenders come calling. At moment, it doesn’t look like they will.