Because Mark Cuban is letting him.
The word you're looking for is desperation. That's the only logical explanation for the Dallas Mavericks’ recent signing of Derek Fisher, the way-past-his-prime point guard, who, before this—outside of his duties as president of the NBA Players Association, of course—was likely sitting on his sofa, playing game after game of NBA2K13, bumpin’ Jay-Z’s “Public Service Announcement (Interlude)” at full blast, while puppeteering a digitally-enhanced Kobe Bryant.
But hey, nothing beats the real thing, right? So here he is, a 38-year old castaway suiting up for Mark Cuban, who is, let’s face it, trying to recreate the Jason Kidd-effect for his team, but is way, way off the mark. J. Kidd is a Hall of Famer, Cubes; Fisher will always have to buy a ticket to enter James Naismith’s Shrine. Hell, even head coach Rick Carlisle knows Fisher is about as useful to the Mavs’ (7-9) pursuit for a record over .500 as a wave cap in Andrew Bynum’s travel kit.
"We need help at point guard," Carlisle told the Associated Press. "I found out on the way over here that Collison would be out, and we were fortunate to get (Jared) Cunningham active. We feel (Fisher) can help us. It's not a cure-all to all of our team challenges, but his expertise and experience will help."
When it comes to Fisher’s experience, Jim Carrey’s doppelganger ain’t never told no lie. Want numbers? How about five championships in a span of 16 years in the L? How about 1,173 career regular season games with four teams (Lakers, Warriors, Jazz, Thunder), with an average of 8.6 points and 3.1 dimes per contest? How about 229 postseason games sprinkled on top? That’s a lot of damn games, fam. A lot. At this point, Fish has so many miles on his creaking wheels, if he were a horse, he’d already be headed for the glue factory.
But here’s the real, and there’s no dancing around it: Fisher, at best, has always just been a great role player in a great system. Nobody with any real knowledge of the game will be mentioning his name in the same sentence with any of the NBA’s great lineage of PG’s. That said, D-Fish still has something to offer. Last year, outside of the Black Mamba’s vituperative regime, he averaged 23 minutes per game, contributing 5.6 ppg and 2.7 apg before June and 6.3 ppg and 1.3 apg during OKC’s march to the ’12 NBA Finals. Those are decent numbers for a reserve player off the bench. And while he’s no Big Shot Rob, he has hit his fair share of clutch shots. I mean, who could forget his daggerific buzzer beater that shocked the Spurs with 0.4 seconds left in Game 5 of the ‘04 Western Conference semifinals? Coach Gregg Popovich still has a vein bulging in his forehead from that one.
Donnie Nelson won’t admit that he wishes he could jump in Doc Brown’s DeLorean, set the date back to October 29 and not release Delonte West, so he’s rollin’ the dice on Fisher, who’ll act as the team’s Yoda. Starting today, he’ll be doling out nuggets of wisdom and leadership to the Mavs’ band of youngsters, who’ve delivered nothing but inconsistency in the backcourt thus far. While it’s hard to fully evaluate this team without the injured Dirk Nowitzki on the floor, Fisher should stabilize things for a bit. The true litmus test, though, will be how he mentors Collison, who had such an inspired start to the season before regressing into mediocrity. And if it doesn’t work out, no biggie, all Dallas had to do to greenlight this little experiment was waive the languid forward-center Troy Murphy. All things considered, that’s a move most GM’s would make any day of the week and twice on Sunday.