DALLAS – Unlike the three previous veteran cuts made by the Mavericks this season, waiving Derek Fisher on Saturday wasn’t Dallas’ idea.
The 38-year-old point guard, signed Nov. 29 and immediately thrust into the starting lineup, asked to be released four days after suffering a knee injury. Fisher cited the injury’s recovery time of approximately two weeks and the difficulty of being away from his family in Los Angeles as reasons for the request.
A Fisher retirement announcement in the coming days wouldn’t be a shock, league sources told FoxSportsSouthwest.com, alluding to his age, health concerns and family issues. Fisher has won five NBA championships — all with the Los Angeles Lakers — during a 17-year career.
Fisher, though, by virtue of his release is in position to join another team should he have a change of heart.
Fisher has been released from a team before due to family reasons. He asked out of his contract with the Utah Jazz after the 2007 playoffs to relocate to the city that had specialists better equipped to deal with his daughter’s medical condition. Fisher returned to Los Angeles and signed with the Lakers.
Fisher’s departure has left Dallas in somewhat of a scramble mode. The Mavericks don’t see much value on the free-agent market for another point guard, both here or overseas. Trade talks are also dormant with the trade deadline two months away.
The immediate plan is to call up Chris Douglas-Roberts from the D-League Texas Legends, which are co-owned by Mavericks president Donnie Nelson, for Sunday night’s game at San Antonio. Douglas-Roberts, a second-round NBA pick in 2008, is averaging 22.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists for the Frisco-based team coached by former Maverick forward Eduardo Najera.
Dallas officials have been pleasantly surprised by Douglas-Roberts’ playmaking ability, and optimistically envision the 6-foot-7 swingman in a point-forward role. The team, though, isn’t making a commitment to Douglas-Roberts as it continues to search for point guard depth.
Another private hope within Dallas circles is the impending return of Dirk Nowitzki not only eases the burden on teammates such as O.J. Mayo, Chris Kaman and Shawn Marion, it also breathes life into the rest of the roster.
A team source mentioned that much-maligned guard Rodrigue Beaubois seems to play better alongside Nowitzki. With only one true point guard in the roster in Darren Collison, the Mavericks could use a Roddy B revival.
The Mavericks, according to sources, knew Fisher might request to be let go at any time. The team and the five-time NBA champion were working on a gentleman’s agreement that simply gave Fisher the option of walking away with no hard feelings from either side.
Fisher thanked owner Mark Cuban, coach Rick Carlisle and the Dallas organization for the opportunity, and by all accounts enjoyed his time with the Mavericks. The team’s record (12-15) and current struggles weren’t mentioned, but might have factored into the decision to return home.
The Mavericks, as currently constructed, aren’t a contender in the Western Conference and, even with Nowitzki coming back, would be hard pressed to make a serious climb in the playoff picture.
Fisher had played well for Dallas, averaging 8.6 points, 3.6 assists and 25.4 minutes in nine games (all starts). The Mavericks’ 15th spot on the roster has been a revolving door all season. The team has also waived point guard Delonte West, center Eddy Curry and forward Troy Murphy.