OKLAHOMA CITY Derek Fisher checked in at the start of the second quarter, and with it ended any debate about what his role will be on this team.
Not that we didn't know already.
Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks pretty much said as much when he joked (not something Brooks does with any regularity or success) a few hours before the Thunder worked over New Orleans 119-74 Wednesday.
"Trust me, we're not bringing him in to have him tell us stories about Kobe and Shaq," Brooks said. "We're not going to eat S'mores together. We're going to play him. He can play 10 minutes to 15 minutes to 20 minutes on a given night."
Funny line by Brooks, but if you're a Thunder fan, it's certainly not, "Ha-ha funny." It's more like, "Scary funny."
With Fisher, and his fistful of titles from days gone by, comes experience. But when he came off the bench, received a nice, hearty applause from the home fans inside Chesapeake Arena, we got a glimpse of what will likely be the immediate future of the Thunder.
Pay no attention to what happened Wednesday as Brooks used the New Orleans Hornets as a science project, experimenting and dabbling in possibilities for his team against one of the league's weaker teams. Fisher entered the same time as Reggie Jackson, possibly just to stick to all of us who asked Brooks before the game who would get the bulk of the back-up minutes, but it looked like the beginning of an open tryout.
"I don't know who is going to play the majority of the minutes," Brooks said. "Some nights Reggie might. Some nights Derek might. They might play together. They both can handle the ball and guard bigger players. We have options."
Don't take what the Thunder did against the Hornets as a sign of future results. Brooks could have brought back the front court from his first season in Oklahoma City and the Thunder would have been fine. Fisher and Jackson played comparable minutes (Fisher: 20, Jackson: 22) , but Brooks is right - they didn't bring Fisher in so he could show off his jewelry. When the playoffs are upon us in about another six weeks, the bench gets longer and the rotation gets tighter. There's really only room for one back-up and don't count on it being Jackson.
"He has great leadership abilities," Brooks said of Fisher. "It would be crazy on our part to not pick his brain. He's been around some of the best teams and best players. Not only for Reggie, Russell and myself, but for other players. It's just not their positing they can teach, it's the situations."
Yet, on a night when Fisher made a triumphant return, it was Jackson who scored a career-high 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
"I just wanted to proved that I belong here," Jackson said. "I'm just trying to be great every day and prove to myself I belong here."
And then Brooks:
"Someone is going to have to play less than another. Russell (Westbrook) is going to play the majority of minutes. The back-up point guard, how we play is not a statistical position. It's the ability to impact the game that doesn't show up on the stat sheet. That's the way it is. There's not a lot of minutes."
Sure, the Thunder could use an extra point guard. After Maynor was shipped to Portland, Oklahoma City had just two point guards Westbrook and Jackson, but bringing in Fisher is equal parts baffling and odd.
Because what the Thunder needed more than a point guard was a scorer. Exposed as a two-man team in a loss to Miami on Valentine's Day, Oklahoma City has to develop a consistent third scorer, or at least get find another warm body to help out Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Count on Westbrook playing more and more minutes, so a scorer, not a point guard is a priority. Fisher isn't a gotta-see-him kind of point guard anymore and he's a non-factor when it comes to scoring.
Fisher has played in just 11 games this season, begged out of Dallas and suggested he wanted to spend more time with his family. Wednesday was his first game since Dec. 21. He took his first shot in a game for the first time since December 18.
"I didn't come in with any expectations," he said. "I was prepared and ready for anything that would come my way. As far as our team goes there are several combinations that can work whoever is out there it's simple, play hard and play together. Everything else will work itself out."
Meanwhile, there's Jackson, who, no matter what Brooks said, can be more than a facilitator. He's a viable playmaker, who plays aggressively alongside Durant when Westbrook takes a break. He is averaging 11 minutes and four points per game.
So, yeah, bring Fisher in. Let him teach, too. Fine. All of that is great.
Just don't put him on the court.
In case you wondering, Fisher went 0-for-4 Wednesday.
Not that it matters.
Follow Andrew Gilman on Twitter @theandrewgilman