Rumors have surfaced over the past week that the Knicks will be interested in signing current Oklahoma City backup point guard Derek Fisher when he hits free agency after the NBA Finals. Yes, this is the same Derek Fisher that was traded mid-season for a first round pick and a bag of poop, also known as Jordan Hill (remember him, Knicks fans?). Yes, this is the same Derek Fisher that was drafted in 1996. The same Fisher who is 37 years old, shot 32% from outside the arc and who got absolutely toasted by Jeremy Lin at Madison Square Garden earlier this season. Folks, Derek Fisher is beyond washed up.
Phil Jackson’s Tex Winter’s triangle offense in Los Angeles over the past few seasons has covered up just how bad Fisher really is. To be fair to Fisher, he was once a very serviceable point guard back in his prime, but his prime was about 9 years ago. He’s not Steve Nash. Fisher has found no fountain of youth and he’s not half the player he once was. Defensively, he is a complete liability. Father time has taken away Fisher’s quickness and ability to stay in front of opposing point guards. Look no farther than Jeremy Lin’s 38 point performance against Fisher and the Lakers earlier this season. Offensively, Fisher is well below average. He’s no longer a great shooter, he rarely creates his own shot and he rarely ever hits the shots he creates for himself. Fisher, a career 37% three point shooter, shot just 32.1% from downtown this past season with the Lakers and Oklahoma City. Fisher finished in the bottom 15 in the league in point guards in usage rate, demonstrating he couldn’t create shots for himself. He finished 5th worst in the NBA in true shooting percentage, demonstrating that he couldn’t hit the shots he created. Fishers PER (Player Efficiency Rating) this past season was an abysmal 8.02, which ranked 6th worst among point guards. His age has limited him to a spot up shooter and he’s not even good at that anymore, as he shot 33% from downtown on spot up shots according to Synergy Sports. Fisher can no longer defend at a high level and he brings nothing offensively. So why would the Knicks want him?
As horrible as Fisher was this past season, the Knicks actually had point guards that were worse. Toney Douglas had arguably the worst season in the league, while Mike Bibby and Baron Davis posted similar statistical seasons to Fisher. There can be a feasible argument made that based on this past season’s production, Fisher would actually be an upgrade over Douglas, Bibby and Davis. However, this is not the way for New York to go. Replacing washed up point guards with slightly more productive washed up point guards is not the way to win a championship. Ask last year’s Miami Heat team that lost in the finals largely in part to their not-so-dynamic veteran point guard trio of Mike Bibby, Carlos Arroyo, and Eddie House. This is not an Andre Miller situation, where Miller is still a productive point guard. Fisher is old and washed up. There is no upside to signing Fisher as Jeremy Lin’s backup. Don’t even get me started about the argument about “veteran leadership”. Ask the Wizards how having Mo Evans and Roger Mason for “veteran leadership” purposes worked out. “Veteran leadership” does not trump talent and production. The Knicks tried “veteran leadership” with Mike Bibby and Baron Davis this year and that was a disaster. They need a playmaking backup point guard who can create his own shot, get others involved and defend at a high level. Fisher can no longer do any of those things.
The Knicks can do better than Fisher. Not to say they’re going to get a great backup point guard, but they can find one who is better than Fisher. There is a decent market of backup point guards. Guys like Gary Neal from San Antonio, CJ Watson from Chicago, Bassy Telfair from Phoenix and Beno Udrih from Milwaukee are all better options for the Knicks than a guy who was born 3 years after the Bubonic Plague swept through Europe. The Knicks also have a second round selection in this year’s draft in which they could snag a guy like Iona’s Scott Machado. There have also been reports the Knicks have been shopping Landry Fields and Toney Douglas to potentially move into the first round of the draft.
My point is this: the Knicks can do better than Derek Fisher and have multiple ways to acquire better talent. Between the draft and free agency, there is no reason the Knicks cannot snag a backup point guard better than Derek Fisher. Once a great champion, Fisher has fallen far from what he used to be. He is now a washed up defensive liability whose offensive specialty is shooting spot up three pointers at 33%. Every dog has their day and Fisher had his day many years ago. Sure, he has had a decent postseason, but the statistics presented above demonstrate that this decent level of play is no longer sustainable for Fisher. Not to mention that he’ll be another year older next season. He will never be a contributing rotation player again and the Knicks would be making a huge mistake by bringing him in to backup Jeremy Lin. They can do much better. Given that it is the Knicks, they probably won’t.
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