- Brian Windhorst, ESPN.com
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MIAMI -- The Miami Heat have an open roster spot and veteran guard Derek Fisher is a free agent. Fisher, after completing a multiyear buyout with the Houston Rockets, is looking for a role on a contender.
The question is whether Fisher makes any sense for the perimeter-stacked Heat or if he still has enough left in the tank to help a team make a title run.
"One thing you know about Derek Fisher is that he's a winner; he's not afraid of the moment and he's won multiple championships," Heat star LeBron James said Monday.
"I don't know what our plans are but I don't see it as a bad fit it if happens. What we have we're comfortable with, but he could fit anyone's team because of his leadership and his commitment to winning."
James' opinion of Fisher seems to be much like the rest of the league's: serious respect but just lukewarm interest. After sampling a group of league executives and coaches Monday, there was a wide array of opinion on Fisher.
"I think he's just about done," said one executive.
"He doesn't have much left but he could win a playoff game for you," said another.
"I think he's got something left; he could help a team," said one head coach.
And Fisher didn't want to help the Rockets, who are fighting for the last playoff spot, instead desiring a buyout so he could go to a stronger contender.
Fisher is not shooting particularly well from 3-point range this season, just 32 percent, his lowest in five years. He's averaging his fewest points since the 1997-98 season. Defensively, he's been a liability for years now. But he's got five title rings, a history of executing in the clutch and instant credibility in any locker room.
But with the Heat, who rely on their perimeter players to be athletic and cover a lot of ground, his skill set doesn't seem to be a great fit. Also, the team is known to be seeking to pick up a big man who can help with its rebounding and post defense issues.
If Fisher is interested, the Heat could potentially create another roster spot by waiving rookie guard Terrel Harris, who hasn't played a game in six weeks.
But even with rookie point guard Norris Cole in the midst of an extensive slump, it would be hard to see the Heat promising Fisher the kind of role and guaranteed playing time he might be looking for. And if the Heat's leaders are campaigning to bring him in, they're doing it quietly.
"I'm not focused on anybody that's not here," Dwyane Wade said. "It's not my call and I'm not worried about it."
It is well known that Wade and several of his Heat teammates tried to recruit Fisher in the summer of 2010 when he was last a free agent. There was even an episode when James ran into Fisher at the private aviation terminal in Miami when Fisher was landing to talk to the Heat and James was taking his own jet out of a town.
Fisher's flirtation with the Heat then was a ploy to get the Lakers to pony up for him and they did, giving him a three-year, $10 million contract that they knew wasn't prudent and they probably never intended to pay him.
Then the Heat needed help at point guard. They ended up going through a string of them last season, dumping Carlos Arroyo for Mike Bibby along the way. Picking up Bibby in March ended up having minimal impact and his numbers when he got a buyout were better than what Fisher has put up this season.
Now Miami is getting strong play from Mario Chalmers and grooming Cole to be its future at the position. Barring injury, it's hard to see where Fisher would fit in the present other than elder statesman, a role he doesn't seem ready for.
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