Elliott Teaford of the LA Daily News wrote:
The finish line is nowhere in sight.
There are miles still to be run. Pounds still to be lifted. There are baskets still to be made and passes still to be completed before Lakers point guard Derek Fisher calls it quits.
Yes, he turned 35 during the offseason.
No, he's not ready to retire from the game.
How long he continues in his present role is anyone's guess, however.
Even he sounded unsure when he spoke about his future Tuesday afternoon.
What is clear is that he's approaching the 2009-10 season just like it was any of the other 13 he's played in the NBA. He's not ready or willing to step aside simply because there are two energetic young studs poised to take his place.
Yes, there is increased competition at point guard during training camp.
No, there is not likely to be a changing of the guard - at least not this season.
"Until somebody tells me something different, I'm going after everything I can get on every opportunity, on every possession," said Fisher, who is in the final season of a three-year contract he signed with the Lakers in the summer of 2007.
"You can't just show up at training camp and think your body is going to respond the way it needs to, to have the impact that you want to have. I guess if I was just kind of hanging on, maybe the offseason wouldn't mean as much to me."
So, Fisher worked out with Peter Park, who has served as the strength and conditioning coach for cyclist Lance Armstrong, during the summer. As a result, Fisher showed up for training camp, older, wiser and just as fit as ever.
It was a clear signal to all concerned he was back and ready for a run at a second consecutive NBA championship. It also was a sign he wouldn't be content to fade into the background after winning the fourth title of his career.
Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown, the heirs apparent, took notice.
"Fisher's been around," the 22-year-old Farmar said. "He's won four rings. He still takes care of himself. He still gets the job done, so I've got to continue to keep working and support him in practice. Shannon is going to be there, too. We're all going to keep pushing each other, and that's going to make us better."
Farmar also is in the final season of his contract, so he has a good deal to prove as he hopes to play well enough to secure a big payday next July.
Pushing for more playing time, battling Fisher in practice is the only way to get a bigger and better deal.
"You're not going to be given anything, especially not in this job as the starting point guard for the Lakers," Farmar said. "I'm auditioning for it. It's not going to be given to you. You're going to have to work extremely hard and earn it."
Like his teammates, Brown also can become a free agent next summer. This is his first training camp with the Lakers after he was acquired Feb. 7 from the Charlotte Bobcats. Brown, 23, hopes to gain more experience and more playing time.
Last season, Fisher averaged 9.9 points in 29.8minutes in 82 games, all starts. His minutes actually rose from an average of 27.4 in 2007-08. He also averaged 11 points in almost 29minutes during the NBA Finals last June.
Fisher added to his already legendary status as a big-game performer in the postseason bysinking the tying 3-pointer in regulation time and then the go-ahead 3 in overtime against the Orlando Magic in Game 4 of the Finals.
Farmar and Brown played far lesser roles in 2008-09.
Farmar averaged 6.4 points in 18.3 minutes. He played only 65 games, all in a reserve role. He sat out 17 games after suffering a lateral tear of the meniscus in his left knee, which required surgery just before Christmas.
Brown played in 48 games with the Lakers after he and small forward Adam Morrison were acquired from the Bobcats for Vladimir Radmanovic.
Brown averaged 4.2 points in 9.9 minutes after the Lakers traded for him.
What's evident is that there is plenty of talent at the point guard position.
What's lacking are available minutes.
"I think everybody knows what they have to do, make the most of whatever minutes you get," Brown said. "Whether it's the lead guard or the (shooting) guard, the parts are interchangeable anyway. We don't have a point guard or nothing like that.
"However it goes, that's how it's going to be played. We don't have any point guard quarrels or nothing like that. We just go out and play hard."
Fisher said he doesn't feel the heat generated by the presence of Farmar and Brown. He said they didn't motivate him to seek out Park during the offseason.
He did that for himself, as a way to quench his own competitive thirst.
"I would be motivated as much or more without those guys," Fisher said. "I know my ability to perform. If I had to use external motivating factors too much, I probably couldn't step up. It's truly my own process that I expect from myself."
So, how much longer might he push himself? Can he play into his 40s?
"The way I feel right now, why not?" he said, breaking into a broad smile. "If you're willing to put the time in and do the work, it's more than possible. The body is capable of so much more than we give it credit for."