At age 39, Derek Fisher is improbably playing his best basketball as a member of the Thunder, writes Anthony Slater of NewsOK. The veteran has come up with big shots when needed and maintained an overall plus/minus rating of 97, while serving as Oklahoma City’s only backup point guard with Russell Westbrook sidelined. Here’s more from the division:
- A league executive believes the Thunder would be fine without Russell Westbrook, evidenced by their continued dominance this season in 29 games without him, and the exec tells Bill Ingram of Basketball Insiders that the Thunder should consider trading Westbrook for a top-five draft pick (Twitter link).
- Thunder coach Scott Brooks tells Jeff Caplan of NBA.com he has no inclination about how the summer of 2016 will go for Oklahoma City. That’s when both Brooks’ and, more significantly, Kevin Durant‘s contracts are set to expire. “All the rhetoric about what’s going to happen three years from now, I kind of smirk and laugh about it,” Brooks said. “It’s crazy. Who knows? What our team believes in is what I believe in. I believe in coming to work everyday, I believe in giving your best, I believe in being solid on and off the court. Those are staples that this organization is about.”
- In the same article, Caplan describes the strong bond Brooks has with both Durant and Westbrook, and notes that there are some striking similarities with the Spurs, where stars Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili have all stayed with coach Gregg Popovich and the small market team rather than seeking more money elsewhere.
- Tom Haberstroh weighs whether Kevin Love should demand a trade in an ESPN Insider piece [subscription only]. The Timberwolves‘ 2013/14 struggles, a history of front office incompetence, and Minnesota’s cold weather are all factors that might motivate the superstar power forward to want out, but Haberstroh thinks the team’s misfortunes this year aren’t indicative of their true performance. The expected win total for the Timberwolves is 32-20, but poor fourth quarter play and close losses have saddled them with a 24-28 record, six games out of the playoffs. Haberstroh thinks the odds are good that Minnesota’s win totals start catching up to their statistical performance in the second half, giving Love a shot at the playoffs for the first time in his career.