Mavs to start Derek Fisher

DALLAS -- An inadvertent elbow during Dallas Mavericks practice Friday welcomed Derek Fisher back to the NBA after the 38-year-old point guard's extended offseason.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle had a bit nicer welcoming gift for the five-time NBA champion: a starting job. Carlisle, who tends to treat his starting lineup as if it were a state secret, said Fisher "probably" would be the starting point guard in Saturday night's game against the Detroit Pistons and beyond.

Fisher, who averaged 5.6 points and 2.7 assists per game with the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder last season, worked with the first team during Friday's practice. He hopes to provide a boost to a Dallas squad that stumbled since a fast start, falling to 7-9 with star Dirk Nowitzki sidelined and Darren Collison performing inconsistently at point guard.

"A lot of people like to throw around 'mentor' and 'leadership' and 'veteran experience,' " Fisher said. "Those are things I don't have to think about. I'm 17 years in the league. I've been in every situation, so being a good teammate to my teammates is not something I have to put a lot of thought into.

"As far as performance on the court, it's what the game dictates. When Coach has me on the floor, I'm just playing the game as it presents itself, never trying to do too much, but never being afraid to take advantage of my opportunities to help my team win. I want to be another example for everybody that every time you step on that court, you do the right things to win."

Fisher will wear No. 6, which he said will serve as an everyday reminder of his desire to win another championship. He was told No. 2, which he wore for most of his career and the number Jason Kidd wore the past four-plus seasons in Dallas, was unavailable.

The Mavs are counting on Fisher to fill some of the void -- poise, leadership and strength at point guard -- left by Kidd's surprising departure this past summer.

"For a guy who's been sitting out, he's obviously been working hard and taking care of himself," Carlisle said. " . . . He did a good job today and he's going to help us."

Fisher said he had been in frequent contact with the Mavs and a few other teams throughout the summer and the first month of the season. He cited several factors in his decision to sign with Dallas, such as the opportunity for playing time, the franchise's past success and the team's potential this season.

"I told the guys today, this is not a pit stop," said Fisher, who joins a franchise that is trying to extend a 12-year postseason streak. "This is not kind of the final whatever before I decide to retire soon. I'm here to give everything I have to help this team right now and continue to build as we go through this season. We want to be in the postseason. We don't want to go through this season and look back and feel like we could have done better."