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Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Updated: February 27, 9:50 AM ET
Mavs not surprised Fisher found work

By Tim MacMahon
ESPNDallas.com

DALLAS -- Derek Fisher's signing with the Oklahoma City Thunder this week didn't come as a surprise to the Mavericks.

Fisher cited the desire to spend time with his family as his reason for leaving Dallas in late December after starting nine games for the Mavs. However, the suspicion among his temporary Dallas teammates was that the five-time NBA champion would join a contender later this season.

Fisher
Fisher

"It wasn't a big surprise," one Mavs veteran said. "We expected him to end up with the Lakers or OKC."

Added another Dallas veteran, while rolling his eyes: "Good for him. Good for him."

According to NBA.com, a league source described the Mavs' front office as "agitated" by Fisher's decision to sign with Oklahoma City less than three months after his sudden exit from Dallas, although the 38-year-old point guard left open the possibility of playing again when he left the Mavs.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle took the high road when asked about Fisher returning to Oklahoma City, where he played last season after being released by the Lakers.

"It seems like a good situation for him," Carlisle said. "He and Mark [Cuban] had an agreement when he came here that he would come and if things got to where he needed to leave for family reasons, he would be able to do that. That's what he said was the situation and I'm going to take him at his word.

"Look, he's one of those guys, he's been in this league for a long time, won a lot of rings and my opinion is he's earned the right to do what's best for him. If Oklahoma City is a good situation for him, then that's what he should do. We've got to carry on and we can't be concerned about things like that."

After declaring upon his arrival that Dallas wasn't a "pit stop" for him, Fisher was productive as a Mav, averaging 8.6 points and 3.6 assists in 25 minutes per game. Despite not having Dirk Nowitzki at the time, the Mavs went 5-4 during his tenure, which ended with him requesting his release after suffering a minor knee injury.

Upon his release, Fisher said in a statement: "The recovery time [from the knee injury] will be approximately two weeks. With this news and the difficulty I have been having being away from my family, I have asked the organization to waive me so I can return home.

"[Mavericks owner] Mark Cuban has been extremely supportive and has granted me this request. I cannot say enough good things about this organization. From Mark, to coach [Rick] Carlisle, to the players on the Mavericks' team, I sincerely thank them for the opportunity.

"I have made decisions in the past, leaving money and opportunity on the table, and I will need to do that again. My family is my priority and that is where I choose to be. I won't close the possibility that I will play again; however, for now my family and being close to them remains the priority."

His release from the Mavs marked the third time since 2007 that Fisher was able to nullify his contract. The Houston Rockets bought out his deal last March after he was traded to Houston from the Lakers. In 2007, Fisher gave up around $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.

Cuban, who said there was "no side deal" regarding family issues when Fisher signed with the Mavs, sarcastically claimed he understood Fisher's decision to resume his career with a contender.

"His kids are older," Cuban said before the Mavs' Tuesday night game against Milwaukee. "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."

Fisher, who officially joined the Thunder on Tuesday, said he's "not planning on retiring at the end of the season," but his family agreed that he deserved the opportunity to play with the Thunder in case this ends up being his last chance.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks wouldn't say if Fisher will be activated for Wednesday night's game against New Orleans.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.