Reporting Mike Fisher
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DALLAS - The Dallas Mavericks have quietly been shopping for a ‘bus driver’ at point guard since the departure of Delonte West, and the finger injury sustained by Darren Collison has turned “quiet’’ into “done’’. Dallas is in the process of signing five-time NBA champion Derek Fisher, age 38.
“I think he can really help our situation with experience, defensively and really all areas of the game,’’ Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “Right now the point guard position is a challenge.’’
This is no “savior play.’’ Dallas, 7-9, while playing without the rehabbing Dirk Nowitzki, now might also be without starting PG Darren Collison, who injured a finger and did not play in Wednesday’s loss at Chicago. By the time Dallas plays host to the Pistons on Saturday, Fisher may be the starter at a position where Collison is hurt, Dominique Jones is struggling, Roddy Beaubois is unproven and rookie Jared Cunningham is not ready.
There is another transaction coming, as Dallas already has 15 guaranteed guys. Don’t hold your breath for Fisher to come here in a way that triggers a noteworthy trade. For those speculating that Collison will be the odd man out, he’s certainly not talking that way.
“I think his leadership will help,” Collison said of Fisher “He’s been around the NBA for a very, very long time. He’s going to help me grow into the player I want to be.’’
An educated guess here: The Mavs will either waive a player or give one away via trade (where a team wants them for nothing) in order to free up a slot. And know that contrary to some reports, the vast majority of Mavs players are available to be traded.
The following cannot be traded: (1) Elton Brand can’t be traded any time this season, (2) Troy Murphy can’t be traded until around Feb 1, and (3) Chris Kaman and (4) O.J. Mayo can’t be traded until Dec 15. So if the Mavs wanted to open up a roster slot by getting rid of one of those four, it could only be via waiver. But every other player on the roster is permitted to be traded, if Dallas finds a taker.
Meanwhile, Collison has had a rough go since beginning the season so well. He is at 12.9 points and 6.3 assists this season, but that is highly deceiving.
He’s been a mess in the clutch as a defender and distributor as the Mavs have lost eight of their last 11. If he hadn’t hurt his finger, he’d likely still be this team’s No. 1 PG…even though he came off the bench in Tuesday’s loss to the Sixers. (It can be presumed, maybe, that a healthy Collison would’ve started in the loss at Chicago.)
And Fisher? He’s a big-time shot-maker, a worker-bee on defense, and a top-notch leader. He proved that in all those years with the Lakers and last year with OKC, too. But again, this is a stop-gap, not a salvation.
The possibility that he does nothing more than clog the development of the Mavs’ kids is a potential negative. And then there is this, mean-spirited as it may be: A few months ago Dallas was planning to sign All-Star Deron Williams to start at point guard. Then it settled for Darren Collison. Now it’s settling for Derek Fisher…a bus driver at best.
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