What Would Derek Fisher Bring to the L.A. Lakers?

Howard RubenContributor INovember 1, 2012

Could Derek Fisher return as a player/coach for the Lakers?
Could Derek Fisher return as a player/coach for the Lakers?Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

The Lakers may soon be creating a new position for free agent Derek Fisher: Resident Coach in Shorts.

There really is no reason not to bring the former captain back for a third and final tour of duty in Los Angeles, where the Lakers presently resemble a bunch of ultra-talented superstars in need of some major cohesion. 

The only problem with this grand idea is that Fisher's talent has been deeply eroded by age and the Lakers would have to clear some salary and players to bring him back.

But until he signs with someone else or retires, Fisher's name will keep popping up in sports headlines around Los Angeles.  The arguments for signing D-Fish to a one-year deal for the purposes of limited backup point guard play and full time "assistant in a uniform" are just too great to ignore.

Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported two weeks ago that Fisher was free to sign with any team after it was discovered that his contract "was bought out by Houston before he was eligible to invoke the 2012-13 option, which means that his contract was deemed to have ended June 30, sending Fisher to full-fledged free agency on July 1."

Stein also wrote that Fisher and Lakers management have "mutual interest in securing some sort of arrangement have a level of interest in reuniting down the road if the circumstances are right,"

So will Fisher come back to L.A. as a player or a "special assistant"?

Did we really have to witness an 0-10 October for the Lakers to realize that, after Steve Nash, their point guard situation is beyond dire?  Steve Blake may know the Lakers system, but he certainly has not been an effective PG on either offense or defense for the slow footed purple and gold.

It's rather obvious that the Lakers have trouble guarding the plethora of lightning quick point guards now dominating the league.  That was apparent in losses to Dallas and Portland this week. 

Mike Brown should be giving rookie Darius Johnson-Odom an opportunity—after all, the 6'2"rookie PG from Marquette averaged 18 points and 3.5 rebounds as a college senior and is a tenacious defender with speed.

But it's obvious that Brown is going to let Johnson-Odom sit on the end of the bench and hope that Blake/Duhon will get the job done.  He probably feels compelled to, given the fact that together this duo makes $7.68 million.

Both Duhon and Blake are being shopped, according to Stein, and if one or both are shipped, wouldn't it make sense to bring in two PG replacements, including Fisher?

What have the Lakers to lose?  They already have a very porous PG defense that allowed Portland rookie Damian Lillard to score 23 points and dish out 11 assists in his NBA debut, turning Laker defenders into basketball matadors.  Lillard is just the third player in NBA history (Oscar Robertson in 1960 and Isiah Thomas in 1981) to score at least 20 points with least 10 assists in his first game as a pro.

Bringing Derek Fisher back into the Lakers fold will not solve the team's point guard issues.  They need better defenders and Fish is nowhere near the player he was just a few years ago, though he still can shoot from outside as witnessed by his 18 of 48 (38 percent) performance during last season's 20-game playoff run to the Finals with OKC.

But, what Fisher will do for the Lakers is help get them all on the same page, much like a head coach.  He won't disrupt the chemistry of the new mix that includes Steve Nash and Dwight Howard.  To the contrary, he'll enhance it.

Wait a minute: sounds like we're advocating the return of Derek Fisher as coach.  Crazier things have happened.

Remember how Pat Riley became a Lakers head coach?  And remember how he did as head coach?

There is a case to be made for bringing Fisher back to where he belongs.  Management will not carve up the roster to make it happen.  But if the right pieces fall into place, we may just see Derek Fisher back in L.A. sometime this year.

And that would not be such a bad thing.