I've a feeling the Lakers' negotiations with Derek Fisher are about to enter an interesting, more tension-filled stage. The talks have stalled lately while Fish has been traveling in China. Now that he's back, he and the team must deal with the gap separating what Fish wants ($10 million over two years) and what the team has been offering ($2.5 milly for one year). Kobe Bryant, for one, has no doubt a deal will get done. Yesterday, in comments at his skills academy at UCSB, he told the assembled throng of media:
We need to have him back, it's as simple as that. It's not a question of if he will be back; it's a matter of when. . . . I don't care what [the cost] is. They need to work that out and get him back because his significance to our ballclub and to me cannot be understated.
I remain confident the Lakers and Fish will arrive at a mutually beneficial deal to bring him back for another year, but the situation brewing in Miami might complicate things. If LeBron James does indeed join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the Heat, Fish is exactly the type of player with whom Pat Riley will be hoping to fill out his roster. That is to say, he's cheap and he's a veteran.
Riles has a long track record of giving playing time to point guards in the mid-30s or older. Rod Strickland, Tim Hardaway, Gary Payton, Rafer Alston... the SS Riley is often the last or near-last voyage for lead guards in the twilight of their careers. Would he make a bid for Fish? I could see it. With LeBron or Wade on the court, Fish wouldn't need to handle the ball much or worry about penetrating off the bounce. He could play the off-ball, low-usage role he's filled alongside Kobe in Los Angeles. And he'd be going to a team with a very legitimate chance to get him another ring.
Riles also doesn't mind screwing with his old employers a bit. Remember last summer, when he made a strong bid to steal away Lamar Odom? It's not hard to imagine Fish welcoming a flirtatious overture as a way of reminding the Lakers that he does indeed have other plausible options. Chad Ford of ESPN has already speculated in his Daily Dime chats on the Fish-to-Miami scenario. Stay tuned.
A few other newslets and links of interest for your Thursday time-wasting....
Shannon Brown - is still on the Lakers' radar. According to Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times, Shannon has not exactly been the object of fevered interest from other teams, and the Lakers remain "somewhat interested" in bringing him back.
Anyone else surprised there's a Steve Blake mixtape out there?
I've known Brian since I was like 10 and I beat him in a shooting game. I've seen him grow and continue to learn. It helps that he's coaching under Phil. It seems as he should be the likely candidate [to take over]. I would love to see Brian coach.
So would we, Kobe. So would we.
Ron Artest - is, you'll be relieved to hear, still very insane. In an interview on ESPN Radio, he confirms that he's been partying his brains out - haven't we all? - and explains how we can use swimming children to choke off the oil plumes in the Gulf of Mexico.
Good news for the Philippines! - Ron's headed your way for a weeklong visit in August. The Philippine Star landed this scoop from one Mimi Ledesma Raquid, whom they identify as a "close friend" of LeBron. What say you, Mimi?
It’s 100 percent sure – Ron is definitely flying to Manila. . . . He’s looking forward to making personal appearances in mall tours and on TV, conducting at least two basketball clinics and doing bar performances to promote his new rap song "Champions."
Yep, that sounds like Ron.
The NBA - released its salary cap and luxury tax figures for 2011-11 yesterday. The cap is $58.044 million and the tax threshold is $70.307 million. Needless to say, the Lakers are well over each of those marks. The mid-level exception is $5.765 million, which means the Lakers have $1.765 million of MLE space left over after the Blake contract. They needn't use that money on Fish, as they can simply re-sign him under the Bird exception.
Dexter Fishmore - has a new feature up at SBN Los Angeles that you should definitely read. In it he asks, which non-Laker team is most likely to bring the next championship to L.A.? Seriously, go read it.
Follow Dex on Twitter here.