Archive for the 'Derek Fisher' Category

Derek Fisher Returns to Staples

Wearing an Oklahoma City Thunder t-shirt, Derek Fisher addressed the Los Angeles media prior to the Lakers – Thunder matchup on Thursday night. Here’s some of what he had to say:

Q: On his emotions:
Fisher: I’ve been through this dress rehearsal before with a couple different teams, and although it’s different compared to what I’ve been used to, it’s a game. I play for the other team now, and I’m looking forward to getting out there and competing tonight.

Q: On coming back to Los Angeles:
Fisher: I’m most excited about seeing my friends and brothers in terms of my x-teammates and guys I grew close to over the years, and then an extension of that are the fans, not just in the arena but the entire city of Los Angeles, the love and support and appreciation they’ve shown me over the years far exceeds anything I could have imagined when I first moved here in 1996. I’m extremely thankful for everything and looking forward to playing in front of them a couple more times before the regular season is even over.

Q: On if his attitude or emotions towards the situation have changed:
Fisher: Yes. I know there have been a lot of statements made, including mine, about what I thought I knew about the situation, whether I knew I was going to get traded, how I was going to feel about it, what my role would have been if I were still on the team. I’m at a good place right now. Initially it was more shock than just pure disappointment.

It’s not for me to speak at this point about how things could have been or should have been handled. I’ve moved on, the organization had intentions of moving on and exercised those intentions and had every right to. I don’t place any blame on any one or the team as a whole. It was fair for them to do what they did; now it’s time to move on to hopefully bigger and better things in terms of what can be accomplished. It was strange circumstances, but I’ve tried to make the most of it.

Q: On if he can help Russell Westbrook at the point guard position:
Fisher: Russell is a talent that doesn’t necessarily need me to tell him anything about how to play this game and what to do. At the same time, when you’re part of a team, part of that responsibility is to make contributions not just on the court through your performance but off hte court helping teammates, supporting teammates. So for Russell, for Kevin (Durant), for every guy on this team, that’s a part of why I wanted to go play with these guys, to add my experience and my wisdom, share some stories, remind these guys that I was playing when they were in the fifth and sixth grade. I’ve played a lot of basketball and still have quite a bit of basketball left to be played. I’m looking forward to adding what I can add to a situation that was special before I arrived.

Q: On selecting No. 37, his age, as his jersey number:
Fisher: As I stated, it seemed like it came before my name so much, regardless of what I’ve been able to do or help my teams do in the past. That number seemed to be the number that trumped everything regardless of any performance or any success that the team had, that number always came first before my name, so I figured I’d just put it out there for everybody to continue to use first, and not just turn it into a positive but just having some fun. It was strange because with the Thunder most of all the single digits were gone, a couple double digit numbers that I like to wear were retired, so 37 just became special because I still believe at my “advanced” age, there are 37 reasons why I can help the team be successful, so that’s what I’m going to try and do.

Trade Deadline Day Wrap Up

A flurry of activity on trade deadline day in the NBA brought a new look to the Lakers heading into the final 23 games of the season, with the acquisition of point guard Ramon Sessions from Cleveland and departure of Derek Fisher to Houston headlining two moves directed by general manager Mitch Kupchak.

Joining Sessions from the Cavs is forward Christian Eyenga, in exchange for Luke Walton, Jason Kapono, a protected 2012 first round draft pick and other considerations. To get Fisher and the 2012 first pick L.A. received from Dallas in the Lamar Odom trade, the Rockets sent big man Jordan Hill to Los Angeles.

Financial considerations were certainly kept in mind, as Kupchak explained, given the increasing luxury tax penalties negotiated into the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, but the GM was very pleased to keep the team’s three stars – Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum – in tact while still addressing a primary need.

Sessions and Hill will take physicals on Friday morning, and are expected to be available to Mike Brown should he choose to use either against the Timberwolves on Friday night.

Sessions excelled as the backup to the leading Rookie of the Year candidate Kyrie Irving, averaging 10.5 points and 5.2 assists in just 24.5 minutes per game this season. The Nevada product was even more productive in four starts, averaging 17.8 points and 11.0 assists, and has career averages of 14.8 points, 7.5 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 89 starts.

“We think Ramon (will) make a more immediate impact (than Eyenga or Hill),” said Kupchak. “Despite Derek’s presence, we felt we needed more speed and quickness in the backcourt. There’s nobody we’d trust with an open shot (more) than Derek Fisher, but we felt from a defensive point of view and giving us some speed and quickness (the move fit).”

The 6-3 guard spent his first three seasons in Milwaukee and Minnesota before being traded to the Cavs prior to the 2010-11 season. A second round pick, Sessions didn’t appear in a game for Milwaukee in the first five months of his rookie year, but immediately showed his value while averaging 11.5 points and 11.3 assists in April of 2008, including a 20-point, 24-assist effort against Chicago.

Sessions gives the Lakers something they did not have on the roster, much coveted by Kupchak and executive VP, player personnel Jim Buss: a slashing point guard adept at penetrating and creating offense either for himself or for teammates. Sessions has also improved his three-point shooting markedly this season, hitting 41.9 percent from behind the arc to bump his career average up to 29.3 percent.

Kupchak thinks that the moves put the Lakers in a better position to make a run at another championship despite losing Fisher’s leadership and experience.

“If we can get over the emotional toll, which I believe we will, we have the potential to be a better team,” he said.

Since Sessions is a bigger point guard, Kupchak acknowledged that he can also be used at the two-guard spot if Mike Brown would like, as both he and Steve Blake can defend most NBA shooting guards. It will be up to Brown to decide who starts, though it’s presumed that Blake will do so on Friday.

Hill, a 6-10 forward/center in his third year out of Arizona, was originally selected by New York with the eighth overall pick in 2009. Acquired by Houston as part of a three-team, nine-player trade midway through his rookie season, Hill has averaged 5.4 points and 4.2 boards in 151 career NBA games (18 starts) in 14.7 minutes. He averaged 18.3 points and 11.0 boards in three college seasons, and in games this year in which he’s played at least 15 minutes, he’s produced 7.9 points and 7.5 boards.

Eyenga was nabbed with the 30th pick by Cleveland in the 2009 Draft, and has played in six games this season with an average of 13.8 minutes per contest towards 1.5 points and 2.0 rebounds. The 6-7 forward played in 44 games as a rookie with the Cavaliers, averaging 6.9 points, 2.8 rebounds and 0.8 assists in 21.5 minutes.

While the Lakers are excited about what Sessions in particular might add, the organization expressed how much it will miss Fisher, the team’s emotional leader that came up huge so many times throughout his 13 seasons wearing Purple and Gold.

“I want to express my deepest gratitude to Derek for everything he has meant to this organization over the years,” said Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss. “Few who have worn the Lakers uniform have done so with as much class as Derek, both on the court and in the community. From his famous 0.4 shot in San Antonio to his clutch performances in the Finals against Orlando and Boston when it mattered most, Derek will always hold a special place not only in my heart, but in the heart of Lakers fans everywhere.”

Kupchak addressed the difficulty of trading Fisher, with whom he hopes to speak on Friday after an attempt on Thursday morning got Fisher’s voicemail, and also took care to thank Walton for his years of service to the Lakers, highlighted by his contributions to the back-to-back championships and consistently positive presence in the locker room.

Kupchak said it’s up to the remaining players and Brown to fill the leadership position Fisher so adeptly held. He added that giving up the two draft picks was less of a concern since such a player was unlikely to be better than Sessions.

DRAFT PICK DETAILS

The pick L.A. sent to Cleveland is lottery protected for the 2012 draft; in other words, if the Lakers miss the playoffs this season, they’d keep their pick in 2012, and Cleveland would get L.A.’s 2014 pick. Furthermore, the Lakers agreed to swap a lottery protected first round pick in 2013 with Cleveland for either the Cavs’ pick, Miami’s 2013 pick or Sacramento’s 2013 pick, all owned by the Cavs, at Cleveland’s discretion. In short, if L.A.’s pick is better (lower) than that of any of those three teams, the Cavs can swap with the Lakers.

The first rounder the Lakers sent to Houston came from Dallas in the preseason Lamar Odom trade, and is protected through 20 picks for six years.

Fisher Reflects on Season’s First Half

The Lakers closed out the first half of the season with five victories in seven games to improve to 20-14 despite Thursday’s loss at Oklahoma City, when L.A., playing its fourth game in five nights, appeared to run out of gas in the second half.

Afterwards, Derek Fisher reflected upon the first half of the season, discussed what the Lakers need to improve upon into the second half, explained the reasons he is optimistic about L.A.’s prospects and more:

On what the Lakers need to improve upon in the second half:
Fisher: How we can continue to make everyone better on our team. I think we’ve done a decent job at times, but right now, essentially Kobe (Bryant), Andrew (Bynum) and Pau (Gasol) are having to score (60)-plus points and everyone is pitching in here or there. I think if we can improve in our execution, ball movement and player movement where we can actually utilize the full capabilities of all the guys on our team, and put teams in a position where they have to defend everybody, I think we can put ourselves in a better (position). We’re asking those three guys to do too much when we just run a play to get them the ball so they can go 1-on-1 and hope that the other team comes and helps, and then you kick it out to somebody. We have to put them in better positions to be effective offensively by getting them the ball after we’ve moved the defense a certain way.

On his general reflections* about the first half of the season:
Fisher: Our record is obviously not something we’re accustomed to or comfortable with at the All-Star break, but I think we’re playing better basketball than what our record says, even if you are what your record says you are. I think we’ve had very few games, even with 14 losses, where we haven’t had a chance to win. The Phoenix game a few nights ago was one of those nights, tonight we weren’t close enough to really compete down the stretch, but by and large, we’ve been there. Our margin for error is small right now because we’re still offensively searching for better ways to be the most efficient team we can be. But we’re getting there. We can’t rest on that, but I think we’re feeling more comfortable with who we are and the identity of who this team is going to be this year. Although we’ve dropped some road games recently, we’ve improved on the road compared to our start and we’re going to be closer to who we need to be as this season goes on.
*Mike Brown also weighed in: “We’re not going to be the No. 1 defensive team and the No. 1 offensive team in the league after being together in a shortened season in a month and a half or two months,” he said after the OKC game. “Anybody that thinks that really doesn’t know what they’re thinking. It’s going to take some time. So with all the stuff that went on, the shortened season and so on and so forth, I’m OK with the progress that we’re making, because I feel like we still have room to grow.”

On being encouraged about where the team is after the shortened training camp, the new coaching staff and system and so on:
Fisher: Yeah. Obviously things could change with the trade deadline looming, personnel could change if that’s what ownership or management decides, but if this is our team, I think we’re getting a better feel for who we are and what we’re capable of doing. I think our coaches are continuing to feel us out and continuing to do a better job of putting us in a position to be successful, and we’re getting there. It’s frustrating, but at the same time, to be in the middle of the pack in the Western Conference (No. 5 seed) when we’ve had to adjust on the fly in terms of who we are with new coaches and new players, an entirely new way of playing basketball with a core that’s pretty much the same was tough early, but we’re settling in.

On looking around the West to see that few other teams are running away with anything, with the possible exception of Oklahoma City (seven losses):
Fisher: We’re not overly concerned with how everyone else is doing, but obviously when you look around the league and you look at standings, you’re trying to measure where you are as a team, we realize that we’re a middle of the pack kind of team, but we feel like we have the opportunity to improve. We have the pieces necessary to compete in this league, and compete against the best teams out there, and we’re going to remain confident in that. That’s not going to change. We’re going to continue to push to maximize what we’re capable of doing.

On getting a majority of the team’s toughest road games out of the way in the first half of the season:
Fisher: I was definitely conscious of teams that we have played on the road; it’s not like we’ve gone anywhere where winning games are easy. As always, in the Western Conference, there might be two nights or three where you are outmatched or you can outmatch your opponent just showing up. There aren’t a lot of teams out there where you can do that in the West, so we’ve done some good things, we’ve competed well, but we obviously want to do a better job in the second half of the season of turning competing well into more wins, in particular on the road.

Fisher Leaves Practice Early

We know that Derek Fisher hasn’t missed a regular season basketball game since April 15, 2005, so despite the fact that he left Thursday’s practice early do to sinusitis, none of his teammates expect to be without him for Friday’s game against Phoenix.

Coach Mike Brown also expects to have Fisher available for his regular minutes when Steve Nash and the Suns come to town.

“If (head athletic trainer) Gary Vitti says that (Fisher’s) minutes will be affected, then (they) will,” said Brown. “But I don’t think so. Nobody said anything to me to suggest (his minutes) will be affected.”

We’ll check and see how Fisher’s feeling after tomorrow’s shootaround.

Fisher’s History of Clutch

With five seconds left in a 70-all game against Dallas on Monday evening, Kobe Bryant saw Jason Terry jump his way for a quick double-team, leaving Derek Fisher uncovered from three-point distance on the right wing.

Knowing Fisher’s history of dropping clutch shots better than anybody, Bryant didn’t hesitate before finding Fisher, and 27 feet later, the ball swished through the net to give L.A. a 73-70 victory (after a desperation attempt from Vince Carter went well wide).

The two most famous shots from Fisher in the clutch are likely burned into the collective mind of any Lakers fan: the 0.4 second buzzer beater at San Antonio (5/13/04), and the game-tying three-pointer with four seconds left in overtime of Game 4 of the 2009 Finals against Orlando, preceding the go-ahead triple he’d nail in overtime.

The two Orlando threes, however, don’t register in the official “Clutch*” stat tracked by the Elias Sports Bureau since 2000, which has Fisher hitting six game winning field goals, three with the Lakers:
*Defined as field goal made in the final 10 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime.

- The three-pointer vs. Dallas
- A running three-foot layup high off the glass as the buzzer sounded to give the Lakers an 87-86 victory on 12/8/10 at the LA Clippers last season.
- 0.4

His other game winners came with Utah (2/10/07 vs. NY (104-102 win) and Golden State (3/25/05 vs. MIL (118-117 win), 12/28/05 vs. BOS (111-109 win)).

“This is what I do,” Fisher said of hitting big shots after the win over Dallas. “When opportunities like that present themselves, I’m confident in my ability to step up and make the right play. I’ve been fortunate in my career to come up with some of those big plays.”

Speaking of game winners…

Bryant had six in 2009-10 alone, the most game winning field goals by any player over the last decade in a single season (Carmelo Anthony is second with five in 2005-06). And since the stat has been tracked, Bryant — who has certainly attempted the most that would qualify — leads the NBA with drained 20 shots that have given the Lakers the lead within the last 10 seconds of a fourth quarter or overtime.

Between L.A.’s starting back court, that’s 26 game winners.

Fisher Says Hello

Yes, it’s been a while since Derek Fisher set foot in the team’s practice facility, but the reporters that inhabited the space on Friday afternoon had seen quite a lot of him.

As President of the NBPA, Fisher played the most critical of roles as the players union and NBA worked to negotiate a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which was tentatively agreed upon early last Saturday morning.

As such, it’s finally time for Fisher to turn his attention to basketball, certainly a relief for the Lakers’ co-captain.

“I learned a great deal, but hopefully next week will be back to basketball and back to business as usual,” he said. “That’s the part I’m really thinking about. It was an exhausting ordeal, but I’m still in a great space in terms of getting to know Coach Brown, getting to that point where we want to be as a team. That’s where the energy will come from.”

When Brown was asked about Fisher’s state of mind heading into training camp during his and Mitch Kupchak’s Friday morning’s press conference, Brown said that he doesn’t worry too much about Fisher, whom he trusts as a veteran who has always taken care of his business.

Brown did use the word “possibly” instead of “probably” when asked if Fisher would be his starter, but may have simply been implying that things work work themselves out during training camp.

Eager to get back onto the court, Fisher didn’t talk for long, but joked that he was smart enough to at least throw the media a bone with a few comments: “I’ve learned not to have this much media waste a trip.”

Fisher’s Iron Man Streak: 495 Games

If you have a better moniker than “Iron Man” for the player that has taken the court in the most consecutive professional games, let us know, but it’s worked pretty well from a self-explanatory sense over the years.

In the NBA, it’s L.A.’s Derek Fisher.

By completing his sixth-straight 82-game season, the Lakers point guard has his games played streak all the way up to 495, currently the longest in basketball, dating back to April 15, 2005 (point of reference: the Sonics still had three more seasons to play in Seattle). Fisher moved into pole position this past December when Portland’s Andre Miller missed a game due to an NBA suspension, stopping his run at 632 contests. Historically, former Laker A.C. Green dominates with a remarkable mark of 1,192 (11/19/86 – 4/18/01).

And how do the NBA streaks compare with those in other professional leagues?

BASEBALL: Over on the diamond, the most notable of Iron Men, Cal Ripken Jr. seemed to play forever, not stopping for 16 years until his streak reached 2,632 games. Currently, baseball’s leader is, like Fisher, in Los Angeles, Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp going strong at 252 games.

FOOTBALL: In football, most starts seems to take precedence over most straight games played (otherwise, we’d be talking about kickers). So with (finally retired?) QB Brett Favre’s impressive feat of 297 consecutive starts in a sport rife with debilitating injuries ending this past fall, fellow quarterback Peyton Manning takes the reigns with his 208 consecutive starts for the Indianapolis Colts. No small feat.

HOCKEY:: Representing the hockey players from an all-time perspective is Doug Jarvis, who played for 12 consecutive seasons (for Montreal, Washington, and Hartford) between 1975 and 1987 without missing a game. Currently, Florida Panthers defenseman Jay Bouwmeester holds the mark for hockey tough guys at 506 games, dating back before hockey’s lock out in the 2004-05 season. As such, Bouwmeester (and his cool name) edges Fisher out by 11 games for the overall lead in North America’s four major sports.

Derek Fisher: 2010-11 Exit Interview

As has been the case in recent years, Derek Fisher’s numbers went up as his playing time increased in the postseason, his 10 games bringing averages of 8.2 points on 42.7 percent shooting, 41.2 percent from three, with 3.6 assists, 2.7 boards and 1.4 steals in 32.5 minutes. In starting all 82 regular season games for the sixth consecutive season, Fisher averaged 28 minutes to score 6.8 points with 2.7 assists, 1.9 boards and 1.2 steals while shooting 38.9 percent and 39.6 percent from three to lead the team.

Below is a summary of his exit interview:

- Intro: “My thoughts are plenty, most of them not good. I just really never imagined being in this situation, speaking to you guys under these circumstances. It definitely hurts. This one will be with us a while.” While other losses hurt, like 2008 in the Finals, Fisher said it particularly hurts to go out this early with such a talented team that believed it would win it all again. He’s hoping that it ultimately becomes a positive with everyone really being forced to look into the mirror.

- On if the team’s capable of getting back to the Finals: Yes. I’d take the same exact group of guys and line them up, lace them up again. We’d get the job done, that’s what I believe can and will happen. It’s no disrespect to Dallas or any of the other teams still (playing), but with the same group of guys — obviously our coach would be different — there are some things that we can do as players to be better.

- On where it went wrong: “This wasn’t an overnight thing. It happened over time. To try and sum it up, some of it is a part of making the run that we’ve made for the last three or four seasons, playing 400-plus basketball games in four years, and just how difficult that task alone is to try and bring the focus, the energy, the effort, the concentration and the intensity to all those games in such a short period of time. In a sense, we were set up to have a fall at some point, but I don’t think anybody imagined or envisions us falling in this way. It was a tough year from the beginning, starting in Europe for training camp. Without making any excuses, I think Phil touched on it even then. It was very difficult to have a training camp, to lay down the foundation that it takes to be a championship team, (especially) with so many new guys (on the bench).”

- And a key quote that hints at how L.A. may have faltered: “I don’t think we were really able to build and grow as a team.There was a point where we just weren’t getting better, we were just the same, and you have to get better in this league.”

- On finishing on this sour note with Phil Jackson: “That probably bothers guys more than anything. That probably hurts more than our own individual circumstances. He deserved to go out much better than this.”

- Fisher was asked if he considered retirement at all, and was very quick to say no: “There’s not a question about whether I’m coming back or not. There isn’t anything tangible that I measure my success by that tells me that today is the day I’m not supposed to be playing basketball. I’m not even close to that. Every bit of me is excited and looking forward to the future. Great things are born out of defeat, adversity and struggle.”

- Fisher’s fully behind assistant coach Brian Shaw, while acknowledging that it’s Mitch Kupchak and Dr. Buss’s decision about whom to hire as the next coach: “I support Brian 100 percent.”

Fisher on what he will remember most about his time with Phil Jackson: In a very, very short version, that basketball is only a metaphor for life. As bad as this hurts, and as much as we like to talk about the game and the stories and the articles and all the attention that goes to NBA basketball and the Lakers, at the end of the day this is a very, very small part of real life. That’s what I’ll take from my relationship with him more than anything, is keeping those things in perspective and being able to emotionally balance the things that come with this job, but realizing that it is a job. At the end of the day, it’s the health, safety and security of your loved ones and your friends, the people that you care about that really mean the most. The money, the contracts, the championships, it’ll eventually run out, get dusty, rusty, dry up and go away, but the memories that you have with close friends and family and teammates … those don’t ever go away.”

- Fisher was very forceful with his words defending Pau Gasol, whom he said took way, way too much blame and criticism: “If anything, I regret the fact that I wasn’t able to fully understand it and speak up sooner on his behalf, to say that I think it was ridiculously wrong to assume some of the things that were being assumed and place the burden of how successful we were or were not on his shoulders. That just wasn’t the case. Sometimes it’s comical the idea of how statistics determine whether a guy is really doing his job or not, and I think it was quite unfair for Pau’s statistical output compared to last year or some other time to be stacked up to this year and now, and then say that somehow we didn’t win because he didn’t play well statistically. If you asked the other teams we played against this year, he was there. He was still Pau Gasol. But he, like all of us, just as a team weren’t able to operate as efficiently at that max level the way we’ve become accustomed to.” In short, Fisher wishes he could have done something to make it better for Gasol from a mental/support standpoint, so that all of it could have “just shut up.” Had the Lakers kept winning, Fisher continued, no one would have been blaming someone statistically, citing as an example that Jason Kidd’s shooting percentage from Round 2 won’t be remembered.

- Fisher said it was very much in Andrew Bynum’s character to apologize for his flagrant foul in Game 4 against Dallas: “Andrew is a bright, smart, very intelligent man, and that particular play doesn’t symbolize who he is on whole. He just had that moment of frustration and anger and weakness that got the best of him. We’ve all been in that situation in life sometimes, where you make a decision and it’s too late to take it back, but Andrew’s a guy of high character, and he’ll be OK.” Fisher’s hopeful that he can just let it go now, having apologized, with knowledge that J.J. Barea didn’t suffer any injuries.

- Fisher concluded with a line about Phil Jackson:
“The biggest void regardless of who is coaching next year, what players are back, the biggest void of all will be Phil Jackson not sitting in the high chair. It’s that simple.”

Fisher, Brown to go on “Minute To Win It”

From the Lakers’ Public Relations Office:

Five-time NBA champion Derek Fisher and two-time NBA champion Shannon Brown of the Los Angeles Lakers team up on NBC’s “Minute To Win It” to win money for their respective charities — the University of Arkansas Foundation Inc., and the Shannon Brown Foundation.

Fisher and Brown begin the episode with “Nice Build” where they must work together to build a three level pyramid of 15 paper reams on a table. Other games include: Whippersnapper, Speed Eraser, Cantenna, Gettin Juggy With It, Knock It Off, Ball Cap. Guy Fieri hosts.

Fisher Probable for Spurs, Barnes Day-to-Day

The Lakers announced on Saturday morning that Derek Fisher, who sprained his left elbow in the third quarter of L.A.’s Friday night win over Charlotte, will be listed as “probable” for Sunday’s game at San Antonio.

The league’s leader in consecutive games played at 476 is expected to start.

Meanwhile, Matt Barnes, who irritated his right knee in pregame warm ups on Friday, practiced with the team on Saturday and received treatment from the team’s training staff. Barnes was hoping to play for the first time since his right knee surgery on Jan. 11, but the team opted against it after the pregame irritation. He’s listed as “day-to-day,” leaving his availability for the Spurs in question.