After winning five NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers, Derek Fisher chose the West-leading Oklahoma City Thunder as the team where he wants to go for No. 6, after surrendering his salary for next season to secure a buyout from the Rockets.
Fisher signed with the Thunder for the remainder of the season Wednesday, not quite a week after he was traded to Houston by the Lakers and subsequently bought out of his contract instead of playing with the Rockets.
He picked jersey No. 37, the same as his age, and took a bit of a shot at the Lakers in the process.
“Especially this season, it seemed to be a negative thing that I was 37,” Fisher said after scoring five points in 19 minutes in Oklahoma City’s 114-91 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
“So I just wanted to send a message that the Thunder organization and I see it as a positive that I’m a guy that can still help a team be successful and compete for a championship at the age of 37.”
Former teammate Kobe Bryant, for his part, said Wednesday night that he will have no problem treating Fisher like a foe on the court.
“Look, we don’t get five championships by being sympathetic towards each other and kissing each other’s [a–] during the game,” Bryant said Wednesday when asked about the Lakers’ game against the Thunder next week. “I’m going to demolish him. He understands that. If he switches off on me in the post, there’s going to be problems. I’m sure he’ll put an elbow right in my back, and that’s why we love each other.”
The Thunder lost their backup point guard, Eric Maynor, to a season-ending knee injury in January but hadn’t made any moves to address the position. All-Star Russell Westbrook had been taking on extra minutes as the starter, with rookie Reggie Jackson taking over as his backup.
Then Fisher became available when the Lakers decided to acquire Ramon Sessions from Cleveland and promote Steve Blake to the starter. Fisher had won five titles alongside Kobe Bryant in two separate stints with the Lakers, with stops in Utah and Golden State in between.
Fisher was due to earn $3.4 million next season under the terms of his contract with the Lakers. But he surrendered all of next season’s salary after being traded to Houston last week to secure a buyout from the Rockets and the opportunity to pick a contender to join for the stretch run.