Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 3/21/12
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Blake Griffin got a hearty cheer from the home fans inside the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Derek Fisher got a standing ovation. A 45-second verbal embrace basically a hug from the 18,000-plus fans. Griffin may be from here, having grown up in Oklahoma City, but Fisher plays here now. Big difference. The Thunder signed Fisher Wednesday, and while he was immediately embraced and warmly greeted in a reaction Fisher would describe as "Humbling," ultimately how Fisher will help Oklahoma City and how he'll affect the team is a mixed bag. Fisher, teammates and Thunder brass all said the right things, carefully choosing their words about the acquisition of the 16-year veteran, who was traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to Houston. Fisher didn't report to the Rockets and was put on waivers before being claimed by the Thunder Wednesday. "It's not often an opportunity like this comes about," Thunder general manager Sam Presti said. "We like what we have. We felt like the next evolution is to improve in the finer points of the game. He (Fisher) has an understanding of that. We're hopeful he'll enhance what we're doing. We're excited to have him." Excited because he can be a calming effect as a back-up point guard a position where the Thunder are iffy, due to Eric Maynor's season-ending injury. But really bringing in Fisher isn't about excitement, it's about the Thunder making sure they feel better about themselves and buying some insurance at the same time. After all, Fisher is a five-time NBA champ and a peacemaker of the highest order. He mediated years of verbal sparring between Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant with the Lakers and recently was on center stage as the Player's Association representative in the NBA's version of Divorce Court. What the Thunder have done is put some peace of mind at the point guard spot without having to sacrifice much for it. Fisher is a free agent after this season after forgoing the option on his contract for next year. He's signed for the rest of this year but Presti did not discuss any future plans. Fisher is making 3.4 million this season. In addition, the Thunder waived seldom-used Ryan Reid. "He's an important piece to our team," coach Scott Brooks said of Fisher. "We have a good team and he'll add to that. He's going to add to what we do. We're excited. I'm excited. The team is. I'm sure he is, too. He'll back up Russell and have an opportunity to play with Russell. He understands team and roles." What happened Wednesday was likely a good picture of what you'll see the rest of the season. Fisher played 19 minutes, spelling Westbrook. He came in for the first time with 1:42 mark and immediately passed the ball to Kevin Durant. Fisher scored five points on one-of-three shooting. He had a single rebound, assist, turnover and block. "Tomorrow (Thursday) we're going to explain to him a little more of what we do," Brooks said. "We have a team full of winners and he adds to what we're building here." Fisher came into the game having started 43 games for the Lakers this season, playing more than 25 minutes per game and scoring 5.9 points per game the lowest number since 1998-99 season when he was 24 But what also happened Wednesday was Fisher swallowed the minutes recently used by guards Reggie Jackson and Royal Ivey. Both Ivey and Jackson didn't see the floor until late in the fourth quarter when the game was decided. For now, that's not an issue as all parties involved are saying the move to acquire Fisher is a good one. But at the same time, it does seem to curb some of the recent enthusiasm over Jackson. "I don't know how it will work with minutes," Jackson said. "It's not my job. I'm not concerned. He's a five-time champ, and you don't find too many of those around the league. There's a lot to learn from him." Jackson, a rookie, has averaged 12 minutes per game. He has played in 40 games this year and is averaging 3.5 points per. Ivey has played in 22 games and averages just more than 12 minutes per game. He is scoring 2.6 points per. Maynor played in just nine games this season before getting hurt. He averaged 15 minutes per game. "I'm looking to be as helpful as I can," Fisher said, immediately shifting into neutral. "I'm not looking to take anything away from anyone. I'm here to only add and support and assist. It's a great process that's been established already." The process manifested itself in another win Wednesday as the Thunder topped the Clippers 114-91 in Oklahoma City. The process also has the Thunder in first place in the Western Conference at 35-12. So, is the move tinkering or terrific? Probably somewhere in between as Fisher will bring a name to the team without the team or anyone else too worried about how much game he'll contribute. "It's that winning attitude," Durant said. "That leadership quality he has. He's played with the best. Shaq and Kobe. To come here with a younger team and mentor some of the guys. I'm excited he's here."
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