Time for Derek Fisher to Take a Reduced Role

If there is one thing I’ve learned during my years of Lakerfandom it is to never doubt Derek Fisher. I’ll admit my guilt. There have been numerous times I’ve written of Fish. Like when he first departed the Lakers for Golden State. At that point I just knew his career was over. Those foot injuries had put his better days in the rearview.

Needless to say I was begging for him to return once I saw D-Fish deliver daggers in the playoffs as a member of the Utah Jazz. The hoops Gods must have heard my pleas because it wasn’t long until he was back in the Purple and Gold fold.

Clearly I had not learned my lesson as I joined the bandwagon calling for Fisher to take a seat. He couldn’t defend the quicker point guards in the NBA and his once reliable shot was MIA. Then he steps up and rips the heart out of the Orlando Magic in the Finals.

As if his countless other miracles need to be rehashed, we all know how valuable Fisher is to the Los Angeles Lakers. His place among Laker heroes is already cemented. That is why it pains me to think of what kind of a season it will be if the Lakers continue to give D-Fish the starting job again.

He hasn’t been able to stay in front of faster point guards in years. That is nothing new. However those clutch moments can only exist if the Lakers are in a position to contend. With Fisher at the point there is no way possible for the Lakers to contend.

Kobe Bryant still has plenty left in the tank but not enough to carry the entire offensive load of the backcourt. Fisher’s offensive production has been on a downward spiral only Anthony Weiner would envy. Simple and plain, the Lakers need more out of their starting point guard to keep up with the rest of the league.

Now this is not to say there isn’t a place on the roster for Fisher. There will always be a permanent place for Fisher in Los Angeles. His leadership makes him invaluable to the locker room. His character makes him indispensable to the community. However his game has officially become a liability.

Mike Brown has plenty of work to do without all the added uncertainty of the lockout. He’s got to evaluate his roster and determine which role each player will fill. Here’s one Laker fan that’s hoping Fisher’s roles is reduced considerably.

Now Brown shouldn’t give Fisher the Vujacic treatment. That would be detrimental to the entire team. Instead the starting role should be passed down Steve Blake while Fisher splits minutes off the pine with whoever inherits the void left by Shannon Brown’s departure (we’re all looking at you, Darius Morris).

Fisher is forever in the Laker lexicon. Nothing will change that. Well, nothing except another torching at the quick feet of J.J. Barea at least.

For the sake of Fisher’s sanity and ours Coach Brown has got to reduce his minutes and find a more meaningful way to get the best of what Derek’s got left. There’s not a team in this league that wouldn’t benefit from Fisher’s presence. It’s just that the benefit now is more closely tied to the locker room than it is on the court.

Now I’m not doubting that Fisher can still contribute in very meaningful ways. I’ve more than learned my lesson on doubting D-Fish. I’m just relying on what my eyes tell me even if my heart knows better.

Tags: Darius Morris Derek Fisher Kobe Bryant Mike Brown

  • Zach

    First and foremost, no disrespect to Fish, but we absolutely need Shannon Brown. It’s a risky move to opt out (AGAIN), especially with no idea where the pay scale will fall under the new CBA, but it’s hard to question the man’s heart.

    Shannon thinks he’s getting better. He thinks every year he can prove he deserves more. I like that about him, along with his incredible athleticism, electric dunks, and ability to spread floor. We need to foster his role as a defensive stopper by getting him bigger minutes (i.e. the starting job), and it’s on Mike Brown to get him working in the open court, in transition, and off screens. He’s capable of getting his own shots and creating easy looks for others (hopefully Kobe).

    I’m a big fan of Fish as well, and everyone knows how the man shoots in the clutch, but you’re right. He’s older, he’s a step or two slower (than he used to be when he wasn’t quick), and he can’t get his shot off the same way he used to. Do I think he’d be one of the best back-up PGs in the league? Yes. Do I think we need more points scored and fewer points conceded by our starting floor general? Yes. Will he still be essential to the Lakers success coming off the bench with Odom? Yes. Will he be pivotal to our hopes at title run? Yes.

    Let’s all embrace his role in Lakers history, in NBA history, both as a player and a man. Now let’s put him in charge of making Shannon Brown into a premiere point guard and the second unit the championship caliber rock we need it be, not only to keep leads, but to bury teams our starting five’s got on the ropes. There’s no doubt Kobe, Pau, and Bynum can make another playoff run (Odom too), the only question is who’s going to be getting them open looks?

    Duke ’12
    English and Visual Arts Double Major

    • Chris Shellcroft

      Well said, Zach!

      I’m with you on just about everything. The one thing about Shannon Brown is if he comes back there’s no telling what kind of an offense Mike Brown is going to be running. Shannon isn’t a true point so he might not be the right fit depending. In PJ’s triangle, Brown was perfect which is why it is sad that he didn’t get a shot at starting ahead of Fisher.

      Blake is still under contract so my guess is Brown will go with him ahead of D-Fish while developing Darius Morris. I think Shannon realized he might not have as big a role under Brown so he’s willing to try his chances elsewhere.

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