Rockets buy out Derek Fisher

Updated: March 19, 2012, 11:30 PM ET
By Ramona Shelburne | ESPNLosAngeles.com

The Houston Rockets have finalized a buyout with former Los Angeles Lakers guard Derek Fisher.

"After much discussion and expressing their desire to welcome Derek to their team this season as well as the 2012-2013 season, the Houston Rockets and Derek have negotiated a buyout," Fisher's business manager Jamie Wior said in a statement late Sunday night.

Fisher, 37, had played in 537 consecutive games prior to being dealt to the Rockets.

The Rockets had acquired the Lakers icon on Thursday afternoon with the hopes of convincing him to stay with them the remainder of the season. Houston currently sits eighth in the Western Conference and hoped his locker room presence would help them make the playoffs and influence what had been a relatively young roster. They also have a need for another point guard while Kyle Lowry recovers from a bacterial infection over the next few weeks.

Fisher was genuinely torn by the situation, according to a source close to Fisher, which is why the Lakers and Rockets mutually decided to extend the deadline for him to report by 24 hours.

Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com's Marc Stein that the Oklahoma City Thunder, who are still trying to fill the void created by Eric Maynor's season-ending knee injury, are deciding whether to register a formal bid for Fisher.

Sources say that the Los Angeles Clippers, by contrast, are not likely to try to sign Fisher, though they also have a need for a playoff-tested guard after Chauncey Billups' season-ending Achilles' tear and with Chris Paul carrying a heavy load.

Fisher is said to be strongly interested in joining the Chicago Bulls or Miami Heat, according to one source close to the situation. The San Antonio Spurs, sources told Stein, have not yet ruled out pursuing Fisher because their planned signing of former Portland Trail Blazers guard Patty Mills has been held up by the fact that Portland has not yet renounced rights to Mills.

Fisher was officially placed on waivers at 6 p.m. ET on Monday, giving teams under the salary cap 48 hours to claim him. Fisher was owed a little under $1 million this year and had a player option of $3.4 million for next year. The Houston Chronicle earlier reported that Fisher had given up his player option for 2012-13 as part of the buyout.

He actually waived that player option for next year as part of his buyout, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. It is the second time in his career Fisher has left a significant amount of money on the table. In 2007 he gave up approximately $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.

Should he clear waivers on Wednesday evening, Fisher is expected to sign with a contending team. The Rockets gave Fisher's representatives permission to speak with about a half dozen teams to gauge interest in him during the buyout discussions, according to the source.

Fisher had made no public statements since his surprising trade from the franchise he'd spent most of his career with. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak admitted that he hadn't given Fisher or his representatives a heads-up that a trade was in the works, and that he understood if he was "emotional" over the situation.

"He may have caught wind of the rumor a day or two ago, but there was no heads up given," Kupchak said on Thursday. "It's not necessary, because a lot of times there's nothing to the rumors. How many times was one of our players traded in the last 10 days and it never took place? So you can't spend your time dispelling or confirming rumors.

"But when something like this does happen, I can imagine what he's going through. I've never really gone through it, but to be in one place, to have the kind of contribution, midseason, it's got to be pretty emotional. We'll talk at the right time."

Fisher would normally have had 48 hours to report to Houston for a physical for the trade to be completed, however the Lakers and Rockets mutually agreed to extend that deadline to 72 hours, a source with knowledge of the situation told ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Fisher had a $3.4 million player option for next season. Fisher is free to sign with any other team but the Lakers if he clears waivers by Wednesday.

A five-time NBA champion, Fisher has no plans to retire. "Derek's desire to win a sixth championship is what drives him and will continue to drive him as he moves forward," Wior said.

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