The biggest news of the NBA trading deadline didn’t come from Orlando. In fact, the much talked about Orlando deal didn’t happen as All-Star center Dwight Howard finally put down his flip-flops and decided to stick with the Magic for at least one more season.
With the Dwight Howard sweepstakes on hold until next season, the most stunning news on trade deadline day was the reported deal involving the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets that would send longtime Laker fan favorite Derek Fisher to the Rockets for forward Jordan Hill.
The deal appears to be a financial decision for the Lakers, who were unwilling to pay the 37-year-old Fisher $3.4 million this season and next season. But to give up one of your team captains and linchpins on five Lakers championship teams for a backup forward who has done absolutely nothing in the NBA is a bit mind-boggling.
Sure Fisher has lost a step or two on the court, but what he brings to the table goes beyond the stat sheet. He is the ultimately glue guy, someone who plays his position and does it with great class and professionalism. And despite his advanced age, Fisher remains one of the game’s best clutch shooters. That’s something you can’t put a price tag on.
Fisher is a selfless player who is one of the most respected guys in the entire league, not just in the Lakers organization. He is the voice of reason, and his opinions carries a great deal of weight. Kobe Bryant has gone on record that one of the guys he listens to is D-Fish. The two of them have grown up together in the Lakers family and have the utmost respect for one another. They’ve been through plenty of playoff wars and undoubtedly the two leaders inside the locker room.
You don’t just give up on a Derek Fisher. At the very least, you allow him to decide his own fate. The Lakers owe Fisher at least that much for what he has meant to the franchise for much of his 16-year NBA career, 13 of them wearing purple gold. What is the harm in keeping a veteran guy who makes big shots in the fourth quarter on your roster for a playoff run? Are the Lakers in such a financial hole that they can’t afford to pay a player $3.4 million? And what does this mean for the Lakers moving forward? You know Kobe can’t be pleased about this move. He reportedly canceled an appearance on ESPN Radio in L.A. minutes after the Fisher news broke, which gives a clear indication that Kobe wasn’t consulted on the matter.
If the trading Fisher was a salary dump for the Lakers then the team just dumped on their NBA championship hopes this season.
Joel Huerto is the editor and publisher of OneManFastBreak.net. Follow him on Twitter @onemanfastbreak.
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I love the Lakers more than anybody (even you, Joel), but it’s a business also. I (as well as other fans) don’t want to say and hear that, but it’s true. I understand what Fish did for the Laker organization, but with the new CBA they are going to need that money (plus the money on Walton and Kapono) to sign Andrew Bynum to a max deal, most likely.
Good story (you always were a better writer than me)and I am glad to be teaming back up with you. Like the days at the GNP.
When we bemoan the lack of committment by guys like Lebron and Howard when it comes to making decisions that seem to dismiss the investment the teams have made in them, the move by the Lakers and the way they rewarded Fisher should be looked at with the same disdain.
A guy that sacrificed and played his heart out was unceremoniously dumped at the 11th hour by the team he helped win titles for without the courtesy of so much as a thank you.
Loyalty is a two way street… Sure it’s a business, but there are better ways to conduct it. It may be a matter of dollars, but sometimes it makes no sense.
Very unbiased perspective and nice comments, E. I will miss The Fish more than anyone, but in a way it had to be done. Fisher didn’t show a lot of loyalty when he bolted for Golden State. That was about the almighty dollar.
But, I will alkways have a special spot in my heart for Fisher. He was a clutch player and he and Horry hit many a shot that kept us in the postseason.
I love guys like Fisher and Horry. Good solid, EXPERIENCED role players whose contributions in big games at the right time can never be undervalued.
The same can be said for guys like Eddie House or Walter McCarthy (Heinson would shout I LOVE WALTER! 10 times a game)
Auerbach knew the value of role players and made more guys famous just by putting them in the right role than any coach in history.
I’d take a guy like Fisher any time I could get him. A guy that puts the team above his own stats is a rare bird indeed.
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The more I think about this issue, I don’t think it was a financial decision. I think this move was done to bolster Brown’s role as the head coach. Although nothing has been reported, I can imagine a situation in which Fisher could have been second guessing Brown and causing mild dissent in the locker room. Once again, I’ve no inside information to suggest this but with Fisher having spent over 12 years with the Lakers and Kobe and having won numerous titles, he may have been more opinionated than a coach would like.