Go ahead and welcome back Derek Fisher with open arms. Give him his old locker at the arena and his old parking spot at the practice gym. Let him wear No. 37 again.
Or if he wants to wear No. 38 because that's how old he is now, that's cool, too.
Just don't give him Reggie Jackson's minutes.
Or Thabo Selolosha's.
Or Nick Collison's.
The Thunder brought back Fisher on Monday, signing the veteran point guard to a contract that covers the rest of this season and filling its final open roster spot. It also replicated the move it made bringing in Fisher a year ago. It's a fine decision by the Thunder; Fisher did help the team make the NBA Finals last season.
But as the playoffs went on, the Thunder leaned on him more and more.
Here's hoping that doesn't happen again.
Fisher is joining a Thunder team in a different spot than it was a year ago. When he was brought in last season, the Thunder needed him to be its back-up point guard. Eric Maynor had torn his knee, and Jackson, then a rookie, just wasn't quite giving Scott Brooks what he wanted.
Fisher filled the need for a solid back-up point guard.
Now, the Thunder has a solid back-up point guard. Jackson has played well since taking the job from Maynor. He's averaging 4.0 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 0.8 turnovers a game. Those aren't jaw-dropping numbers, but if you watch the Thunder, you can see that he's plenty effective with the second unit.
If the Thunder brought in Fisher to take Jackson's spot, it's a bad idea. Jackson is not only the present but also the future at back-up point guard. He needs to keep playing, to continue getting experience, and that includes being on the floor during the playoffs.
Jackson needs to get those minutes, not Fisher.
Which begs the question — whose minutes will Fisher take?
We won't know for a bit. The Thunder didn't practice Monday, so Brooks wasn't available for interviews. And frankly, whatever the coach says once he is available, we're going to want to wait and see how things play out. Where does Fisher fit into the stretch-run rotation?
I don't know the answer to that question, but I know that Fisher's minutes best not come at the expense of Sefolosha or Collison.
That's what ended up happening a year ago. He was brought in to replace Jackson, but as the season went on, his mission started to creep. By the end, he was on the floor with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook as much as he was with the second unit.
In the playoffs, Fisher averaged as many minutes as Sefolosha and more minutes than Collison. In the playoffs when points are at a premium and defense is ratcheted up, it's better to have your best defensive player on the court more, not less.
Yet in the Finals, Brooks went with Fisher more than ever. He averaged 21.5 minutes in the first three rounds of the playoffs and 25.6 minutes in the Finals.
That would've been great news had Fisher been able to help guard LeBron James.
Would Thabo or Collison or even Ronnie Brewer, the defensive whiz who was acquired last week from the Knicks, have made a difference in the outcome of the series?
It's hard to say.
But I sure like the Thunder's chances more with them on the floor instead of on the bench.
Listen, I'm not here to hate on Fisher. He can hit big shots. He can make great passes. He can bring veteran leadership into the locker room and onto the court. But at 38 years old, he could take playing time away from guys who need to be on the court during the playoffs.
Giving him his old locker is one thing.
Giving him those minutes is quite another.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.