TSN's Jack Armstrong offers his thoughts on Derek Fisher's situation, the impact of J.J. Redick, the future of Bryan Colangelo, the valuable experience of Jermaine O'Neal and the leadership of Luke Walton.
1. DEREK FISHER (Thunder): This is the third time in his career (Jazz/Rockets/Mavs) that he asked for his release to 'spend time with his family' and then ended up with a contending team. I respect the fact that his daughter has had medical issues and he should be trying to get home as much as possible. He's left money on the table in the past to be close to his family. I'll take him on his word on all of that. He's been a very good pro and I'm sure he'd like one more chance at a championship and he will help the Thunder with his leadership as he did in his brief stint with them last year. It's okay for him to want to be with a contending team. Just say it, that's important too along with the family issues. I have no problem with that. Not sure if the Mavs wholeheartedly agree with that but I see their frustration; put all your cards on the table.
2. J.J. REDICK (Bucks): Have watched the games he's played for the Bucks and I like what he brings them. He's averaging 15 ppg in his two games, averaging 29 minutes per game. He knows how to play and is a team guy who has won both as a collegiate player at Duke as well as a pro with the Magic. He gets it. Brings great understanding to what has to get accomplished offensively to succeed. I see coach Jim Boylan using him more and more once he gets comfortable figuring out his rotations. Last night at Dallas, Redick got some of Brandon Jennings minutes and Jennings didn't look too pleased. I'll say this though, the Bucks played much more like a team with Redick in the game and it allowed them to feature Monta Ellis more. The ball moved and they had good flow. Boylan's job is to win games. Period. You play the guys that get it done for you and help the team. Redick will help.
3. BRYAN COLANGELO (Raptors): Not sure if you know this or not but Thursday is the seventh anniversary of his hiring with the Raptors. How time flies. The question is, from mid-April beyond, is he still the Raptors President/GM? I say he should be. I think he should be given the opportunity to 'see through' his plan. Going into this season, I felt that they were a year away and I still feel that way. They've blown and lost 13 games where they've led going into the fourth Quarter; that's a major issue that has to be corrected. I think they're headed in the right direction yet they've got a long way to go to become an upper tier (top 4 in East) team. Playoffs this year? Five games out with 25 to play. The next few weeks will set the tone with this week being huge setting the table. Bottom line, I trust that he's got things in better shape than they were a few seasons ago and I firmly believe they'll be better next year and the year after that. If MLSE asked me my opinion, I'd say pick up his option now, kill the talk about his future and allow him to focus all of his efforts to get this thing righted once and for all. If it's not headed the way you want this time next year, you have every right to make a move. He's a big boy and I'm sure he'd understand and respect that. I just think he deserves the opportunity to see it through to its rightful direction/conclusion. Have mistakes been made over the years? Absolutely, they've all been covered and discussed. I just think that with all that being said, my gut tells me (with lots of careful thought put into it) that he's still the right guy. Easy to jump off the ship for lots of folks. Been around lots of basketball men in my life and I firmly believe he can do it. Have I always agreed with everything he's said and done? No way. Yet, I still have a lot of faith and trust in him and I respect him as a good hard-working and intelligent basketball man. Sometimes in life, you've got to let your heart and gut have a say in things, and both of them tell me to stay the course for a little longer.
4. JERMAINE O'NEAL (Suns): Still has something left. 10 and 13 last night vs. T'Wolves. Has had three double-doubles in his last six games. Good face-up game and can rebound and change shots around the basket. He's on the 17th/18th hole of his career but it wouldn't surprise me to see a playoff contender make a run at him this off-season on a veteran minimum contract for second unit experience/productivity.
5. LUKE WALTON (Cavs): Watched their win over the Bulls Tuesday night without Kyrie Irving and was really impressed with his leadership and knack for making the 'right' play. He's got a nice veteran presence on the floor and you can clearly see that his teammates like and respect him. Puts the team first all the time. Excellent passer. Has got championship rings from his time with the Lakers and understands the 'big picture', the pieces/ingredients that go into winning.