Derek Fisher has rejoined the Oklahoma City Thunder, which could be terrific or terrifying depending on your viewpoint.
But what's undisputable is how bringing back Fisher makes a lot of sense for the Thunder. Adding the veteran point guard for the remainder of the season has the potential to do much more good than harm.
At this point, we're just unsure how Thunder coach Scott Brooks intends to use him.
Nevertheless, for those still wondering why Oklahoma City rekindled an old flame, here are five reasons that should help you understand the organization's thinking.
Insurance: The No. 1 reason this deal went down. OKC shipped reserve point guard Eric Maynor to Portland at the trade deadline last Thursday and was left with only Russell Westbrook and Reggie Jackson at the point guard spot. Teams generally like to have three point guards for emergency purposes. For a team that expects to make another deep playoff run, entering the postseason with only two lead guards would have been risky. Fisher also brings stability to the position in the event that Jackson, still in just his second season, struggles under the playoff spotlight.
Familiarity: Thunder general manager Sam Presti once said of his roster, “once you're a member of the Thunder family, you're in.” Fisher earned his stripes when he came to Oklahoma City at this time last year and helped the Thunder journey to the NBA Finals. Along the way, Fisher got to know the Thunder and the organization got to know him. Fisher learned both the playbook and the team's personalities. Bringing back a player who already possesses a comprehensive corporate knowledge allowed the Thunder to skip having to integrate someone who doesn't know the lay of the land. Whether he plays two minutes or 20 minutes, Fisher can step in right away and make an impact.
Experience: We know about Fisher's five championships and his long history of big shots. But consider this. Fisher has appeared in 140 more playoff games than Jackson has regular season games. Think about that. The Thunder isn't likely to see anything in the playoffs this year that Fisher hasn't seen. Even if he's not on the floor in pivotal moments, Fisher can use his experiences to impart wisdom onto teammates and coaches. Additionally, the Thunder's bench became a blend of relative NBA newbies following the departures of James Harden, Daequan Cook and Nazr Mohammed. With Fisher — and fellow newcomer Ronnie Brewer — the bench now has much more of a veteran presence and perhaps will not have to rely on the likes of Jackson, DeAndre Liggins, Hasheem Thabeet when it matters most.
Locker room leadership: Fisher is in his 17th NBA season. He's played more than 1,110 NBA games. Through it all, he's established a reputation as one of the most professional players around, earning the respect of his peers. When Fisher talks, people listen. The Thunder believes that command is invaluable in the locker room, in huddles and in hostile environments on the road. Fisher, in essence, is like another coach. And the way he shared secrets and experiences last year, while serving as a calming force at times and emotional captain at others, was, and still is, considered priceless by the team's decision-makers. If at any point the Thunder's young players need direction, they just got another person to which they can turn.
Perimeter shooting: Saying the Thunder strengthened a weakness even though it leads the league in 3-point shooting might seem a tad strange. But that's exactly what happened with Fisher's signing. Despite OKC's league-leading 39.2 percent rate from 3-point range, the Thunder still lacked reliable perimeter shooting threats outside of Kevin Durant and Kevin Martin. Westbrook and Thabo Sefolosha are streaky shooters, and after them there's a severe drop off. Furthermore, the ball generally is in the hands of Westbrook or Durant, which in effect leaves only two, at most, reliable spot-up shooters on the wings at any given time. Fisher, however, made a respectable 37.5 percent of his 3s in the playoffs last year. If you never knew his position or history with the Thunder, you would think the Thunder upgraded simply by adding Fisher as another player who can space the floor.