The Lakers can sign Derek Fisher, they just shouldn't

October, 17, 2012
10/17/12
10:04
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
Mark Stein delivered the news Tuesday afternoon.

The original assumption, that CBA rules prevented Derek Fisher's return to the Lakers until March 15, turns out not to be true. Because Fisher was bought out by the Houston Rockets following last year's deadline deal before he was eligible to pick up his extension for this year, he's able to sign wherever he'd like, including with the Lakers.

Stein reports at least theoretical interest from both sides, though I'd be almost shocked if it actually happened. Still, for a lot of fans, the lure of Fish is still strong. I get it. This is a Lakers blog. If you need the significance of Derek Fisher explained, I suspect you're new around here. But strip away the sentimentality, and it becomes clear bringing him back isn't a good idea.

A few reasons why (even if the Lakers, with four point guards on the roster, could somehow clear out the glut): 1. Fish isn't a productive player anymore. I realize the Lakers don't have a strong crew of backups behind Steve Nash, but Derek Fisher isn't exactly a solution to that problem. 32 percent from 3-point range last year, 37 percent overall, and while leaving the triangle raised his assist rate, his turnover percentage rose along with it. What he'd do is add that much more uncertainty to an already uncertain position.

"Right," Fish supporter says, "but he wouldn't be brought back for his true on-court prowess. He's a leader who hits big shots."

Except...

2. This isn't baseball. Fisher might be left-handed, but basketball isn't baseball. Fish can't be used like some sort of left-handed situational reliever, kept on the bench until it's time to hit a big shot. The game doesn't work that way, but more importantly, if the Lakers require Fisher in crunch time, something has gone very wrong in the game. It means Steve Nash and/or Kobe Bryant and/or Metta World Peace aren't on the floor, because of injury or a totally bizarre coaching decision in which the strategy is to play lesser players while better ones sit.

3. It's much harder for a player to be a a floor general and locker room leader when he doesn't play much. The voice doesn't have quite the same resonance. It's harder to say the tough things about who is doing what to either help or hurt the team. His Derek Fisherness notwithstanding, guys who aren't regulars on the floor have a tougher time leading, and particularly in the playoffs, Fisher's PT could be thin.

4. The Lakers have new leaders, and bringing back Fisher undercuts them. Andy made this point when we were talking Fish after Stein's updated report. A revamped roster with new stars means new voices and new leadership the Lakers must cultivate, a task made harder by Fisher's presence. Not saying he'd engage in some sort of locker room power grab, but the natural respect Fisher engenders -- particularly from Bryant -- makes it harder for the other guys to grow into their roles and find a natural order of things.

Derek Fisher is a Lakers icon and a high-class guy. The team should, and will, find a way to appropriately honor him at a point not too far down the road. But a third go for Fish in purple and gold isn't right for this team.

Generally speaking, you can't go home again.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsP. Gasol 9.7
AssistsK. Marshall 8.8
StealsJ. Meeks 1.4
BlocksP. Gasol 1.5