Derek Fisher: Leaving good for me

Updated: March 5, 2013, 11:29 AM ET
By Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com

Derek Fisher on Monday defended his decision to request his release from the Dallas Mavericks earlier this season due to the desire to spend more time with his family.

Fisher, who's now on Oklahoma City's roster as its third-string point guard, played nine games for the Mavs before the team granted his wish to be waived in late December. Fisher, 38, signed with the Thunder last week, and the Mavs weren't surprised to see the five-time NBA champion resurface with a contender, prompting a roll of the eyes by Mavs players and sarcastic comments from owner Mark Cuban.

"I was being open and honest at the time and I'm being open and honest now," Fisher told the Los Angeles Times. "At the time, I felt strong about the decision on a personal level. It wasn't anything about Dallas or Mark that I was not happy about. Just personally, I didn't enjoy being away from my family at the time.

"Over the last couple of months, being out of the game and having a chance to reflect on some things and think about some things, when this opportunity presented itself and I thought about the totality of my career, I decided that this was something I deserved to do for myself. Sometimes as a leader, you can't make decisions based on what other people are going to think or how they're going to feel. You just do what you think is right at that time and that's what I'm doing here."

Fisher did not contact the Mavs before signing with the Thunder, which annoyed team officials. With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Cuban claimed to "completely understand" Fisher's decision to return to Oklahoma City, where he played last season after the Houston Rockets bought out his contract following a trade from the Los Angeles Lakers.

"His kids are older," Cuban said last week. "It's easier to fly in and out of Oklahoma City than Dallas. I understand that. It's a decision a parent has to make. Every parent has difficult decisions to make."

Moments later, Cuban added: "A lot can happen in 65 days."

His release by the Mavs marked the third time since 2007 that Fisher was able to nullify his contract. The Rockets bought out his deal last March. In 2007, Fisher gave up about $8 million from the Utah Jazz to sign with the Lakers so his family could be closer to the doctors who were treating his daughter for a rare form of eye cancer.

Fisher averaged 8.6 points and 3.4 assists in his short stay with the Mavs as their starting point guard. He is scoreless in two games for the Thunder this season, missing all six field goal attempts.

"I respect Mark, I respected Coach [Rick] Carlisle, I respect their team," Fisher told The Times. "That will never change, but it's not about everyone else necessarily. It's just about making a decision I felt was best for me at this time."

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