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Derek Fisher can return to Lakers after all

Derek Fisher isn't prevented from returning to the Los Angeles Lakers by the NBA rulebook, as previously thought because of confusion about his last contract. Interest between the sides is apparently mutual.

Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

It was initially believed Derek Fisher would have to wait a calendar year before signing with the Los Angeles Lakersafter the team traded him last March, but as Marc Stein reports, the free agent point guard is able to sign with his longtime team whenever -- and interest in him doing so is mutual.

The 38-year-old seemed not to have much left in the tank when the Lakers traded him last year, a move which apparently caused a rift between the guard who has won five titles with Los Angeles and the team's management. However, he appeared rejuvenated and played an important role in the Oklahoma City Thunder's playoff run to the finals, proving he still has something left. Stein reports that the Lakers may opt to move point guards Steve Blake orChris Duhon to make room on the roster and payroll for Fisher, who isn't ready to retire.

The confusion stemmed from the fine print in the NBA's rulebooks and in Fisher's last contract: the 16-year-veteran was traded to the Houston Rockets in a deal to bring Jordan Hill to the Lakers and get Fisher's salary off the books. Players aren't allowed to resign with teams that traded them either for a full year or until their contract expires, whichever comes first, to prevent fishy, under-the-table trades to circumvent salary cap rules. Fisher was believed to have a contract option for the upcoming season, meaning the one year date would have come first, but it turns out he was bought out by Houston before the option was used, meaning his contract has hypothetically been over since the end of last season. Therefore, he's free to sign with Los Angeles whenever the two sides agree on a deal.

This story first appeared at SB Nation.

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