When Derek Fisher was traded to Houston on Thursday, it brought a painful end to his illustrious Lakers career. The five championships won in 13 seasons in were all things of the past, and the team's present needs -- as seen by the Buss family ownership group and general manager Mitch Kupchak -- included getting younger and quicker at the point guard position in an attempt to remain relevant at the NBA's highest levels.
So Kupchak landed 25-year-old Ramon Sessions from Cleveland via trade, then sent the 37-year-old Fisher to the Rockets before he reached a buyout agreement on Tuesday. But Fisher clearly had a plan in place when he decided to forgo the $3.4 million option on his contract for next season, one that became clear on Wednesday.
His decision to sign with Oklahoma City means the Thunder will have the sort of point-guard depth and veteran leadership they've been lacking, not to mention the intriguing possibility that he could face his former team when the postseason rolls around.
In a statement issued first to SI.com, Fisher discusses the trade and his new team for the first time:
"I am extremely honored to announce that I will join the Oklahoma City Thunder in pursuit of the 2011-2012 Championship. What these players, coaches and front office have created is special. My representatives and I had conversations and offers from several teams, however, this just feels right and this is a choice I am confident in.
I will earn my spot on this team and do whatever my teammates need me to do to get us to a championship. I will also lead to the best of my ability whether from the bench, in the locker room or on the court.
Thank you to my fans, friends and family that have reached out. While I am surprised by recent events, I look forward to contributing to the Thunder and continuing to play the game I love so much and have fought so hard to bring back.
To Kobe, Pau, Andrew, Matt, Steve, Devin, Darius, Josh, Drew, Troy, Metta, Luke, and Jason, and all my teammates in Los Angeles through the years, thank you for your friendship, for the camaraderie, for pushing me each and every day to achieve greatness and letting me lead you the best way I knew how. You each have a lifelong friend and supporter in me.
Los Angeles will always have a place in my heart, it will remain a home to my family and my businesses, but basketball will be played elsewhere and I look forward to seeing everyone on the court ... even if it is in a different uniform."