An addition that has been expected seemingly all summer is now official, as Fisher has signed a one-year deal that will bring the veteran guard back to Oklahoma City for the third straight season.
Fisher, who traveled to Oklahoma City from Los Angeles on Wednesday afternoon to sign the contract, will join the Thunder on the veteran’s minimum, or roughly $1.4 million.
But unlike his first two stints in town, Fisher this time will have a chance to make his mark from the start of the season. In each of the previous two seasons Fisher was signed midway through the year.
Fisher appeared in 20 games as a member of the Thunder during the 2011-12 season and took the court for 24 games last year.
Though he’ll turn 39 on August 9, Fisher used a strong playoff performance last season to prove he still has plenty left to offer. He averaged 8.7 points on 45.7 percent shooting in 11 playoff games and was huge in helping the Thunder advance past Houston following the season-ending knee injury to starting point guard Russell Westbrook.
“Derek has proven to be a valuable member of our team and we are excited to have him back,” said Thunder general manager Sam Presti in a statement. “He has such a positive impact on his teammates and the organization.”
Fisher, a five-time champion who is five postseason games shy of passing Robert Horry for the most playoff games played in NBA history, is expected to again bring a leadership element on the court, on the bench and in the locker room.
With the emergence of third-year guard Reggie Jackson, who is projected to step in as the team’s newest sixth man, Fisher will serve as the third string point guard. He also figures to again receive minutes off the ball as a shooting guard given his accuracy from behind the 3-point line. Fisher is a career 37.5 percent 3-point shooter in the regular season and 40.5 percent 3-point shooter in the postseason. He ranks fourth all-time in playoff 3-pointers made, his 273 makes trailing only Ray Allen, Reggie Miller and Kobe Bryant.
Because the Thunder is signing Fisher to a one-year deal, the NBA will reimburse Oklahoma City approximately $515,000 of Fisher’s salary. Only $884,293 of Fisher’s salary will count against the team’s salary. The league does this when teams sign players who have been in the league for three or more seasons to minimum salaries for one year, 10 days or the rest of the season. It’s a measure designed to keep teams from shying away from signing veteran players.
It’s something that also will keep the Thunder under the $71.75 million tax threshold this season. Barely. But the team will remain far enough under the tax to sign one more matching minimum contract without exceeding the threshold thanks to the league’s reimbursement policy for players with at least three years of service.
In order to not exceed the tax in the event of a second potential minimum signing, however, the Thunder would have to part with at least one of its three players on non-guaranteed contracts, Daniel Orton, DeAndre Liggins or Hasheem Thabeet.
The Thunder had a standing offer to free agent forward Mike Miller, the same deal it gave Fisher. But according to a report Wednesday, Miller will sign with Memphis, a team he played for from 2003-08.