The Thunder have been called the team of the future. They are built on youth, speed, and more youth, but their Western Conference title last year was marked by key contributions from veteran acquisitions. This was apparently easy to forget. This off-season OKC seems determined to get even younger. Have they poorly measured the positive impact of the few veterans they once possessed?
Oklahoma City let veteran legend and clutch shooter Derek Fisher go, as well as Nazr Mohammed and Royal Ivey. Now, I love the core of this Thunder team revolving around the 23-year old duo Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook as much as the next guy, but there is something to be said for a dash of experience coming off the bench too.
Letting Fisher go may be a critical mistake. He was not only a calming influence on Westbrook’s out-of-control tendencies, but he was also a big-time shooter in the clutch. This type of calming influence is perhaps nowhere more important than in the playoffs where proven winners like Fisher can show young planners the mental toughness necessary to close out a 7 game series.
Critics will say this off-season move was necessary to create additional cap space for Ibaka. I agree creating salary cap space to resign Ibaka and hopefully James Harden should be the first priority in OKC, but the reality is, they really didn’t carve out much space by dropping these three vets. The question is whether all the hoopla surrounding Oklahoma City’s youth has gone to their management’s heads. Yes, they are lightning quick and criminally talented for being so young, but sometimes it is the locker room or bench guidance of a veteran that allows young players to truly flourish. Oklahoma City may find themselves needing a rudder for the powerboat of youth and raw speed they’ve pieced together.
It’s ironic that Fisher was let go by OKC and will be scooped up by the Lakers. I guess Los Angeles sees how much value still exists in clutch veteran players. They’ve also got enough banners hanging over at the Staples Center to make me think OKC letting go of Fish was a critical mistake.
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