Fisher signed with the Thunder for the remainder of the season on Wednesday, not quite a week after he was traded to Houston by the Lakers and subsequently bought out of his contract instead of playing with the Rockets.
He picked jersey No. 37, the same as his age, and took a bit of a shot at the Lakers in the process.
“Especially this season, it seemed to be a negative thing that I was 37,” Fisher said after scoring five points in 19 minutes in Oklahoma City’s 114-91 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
“So I just wanted to send a message that the Thunder organization and I see it as a positive that I’m a guy that can still help a team be successful and compete for a championship at the age of 37.”
The Thunder lost their backup point guard, Eric Maynor, to a season-ending knee injury in January but hadn’t made any moves to address the position. All-Star Russell Westbrook had been taking on extra minutes as the starter, with rookie Reggie Jackson taking over as his backup.
Then Fisher became available when the Lakers decided to acquire Ramon Sessions from Cleveland and promote Steve Blake to the starter. Fisher had won five titles alongside Kobe Bryant in two separate stints with the Lakers, with stops in Utah and Golden State in between.
The Lakers lead the Pacific Division but are third in the West, six games behind Oklahoma City.
“Right now, they sit on top of the Western Conference and I’m just hopeful that the things that I do, the things that I’ve always brought to every team I’ve ever played on, can be the right mix to help these guys continue to do whatever it is that they’re already doing,” Fisher said.
Fisher had played 13 of his 16 NBA seasons with Los Angeles before getting dealt away at last week’s trade deadline.
“I think that I was surprised by it, but since then I’ve very much realized that it’s not so much about what went wrong and why it happened but more so where I’m going next and the next chapter of my life,” Fisher said, declining to speak in depth about his divorce with the team until later.
Without a moment of practice, Fisher immediately took over Jackson’s backup minutes, although coach Scott Brooks called the 2011 first-round draft pick one of the Thunder’s “important pieces going forward.” Fisher has averaged 8.7 points and 3.1 assists during his career and has played in 209 playoff games in 13 trips to the postseason.
“He has winner all over his DNA,” Brooks said. “You can never have enough winners in your locker room, and we have a locker room full of them. He just gives us one more winner.”
Fisher played with the Lakers when they knocked Oklahoma City out in the first round of the 2010 playoffs on their way to a second straight championship. He said he’s always respected the team because he’s observed that the players play with energy every single game.
That approach was reinforced when he met with general manager Sam Presti while he was going through the process of clearing waivers and becoming a free agent.