LOS ANGELES -- Derek Fisher loves playing for the Los Angeles Lakers and can't imagine himself in another uniform.
It could happen as early as next fall.
That's the last thing Fisher wants to think about right now while the Lakers are playing Detroit in the NBA Finals, but the sharpshooting guard acknowledged it's been on his mind to some degree for months.
Fisher, like several better-known teammates including Kobe Bryant, has the right to opt out of his contract this summer and become a free agent.
"I've thought about it a great deal," Fisher said this week. "I think a lot of it depends on how we finish up as a team, what happens with the other players."
The Lakers might not be in the NBA Finals if not for Fisher, whose 18-foot jumper as time expired gave them a 74-73 victory over San Antonio in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Fisher had to catch and shoot the ball in four-10ths of a second, and in managing the feat made one of the most memorable shots in franchise history. "Not yet," he said when asked if the meaning of the shot he made nearly four weeks ago had sunk in. "Until we figure out a way to win this series, all of that doesn't sink in all the way."
Fisher was a first-round draft pick of the Lakers in 1996 -- the same year Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal joined the team. Never a star but usually a significant role player, Fisher went from starter to substitute when the Lakers added future Hall of Famer Gary Payton last summer. Fisher, 29, said he was fine with the move. But it hasn't been easy.
"It wasn't tough, being demoted in a sense," he said. "I still envisioned myself coming off the bench and playing starter-type minutes. The toughest part was looking at the box score and seeing I had played 16 minutes in some games."
Payton, meanwhile, has complained about playing time and his role in the offense on a consistent basis all year, and didn't speak with reporters Sunday night after Game 1 of the finals, when he shot 1 of 4 for 3 points in 31 minutes in the 87-75 loss to the Pistons. Fisher shot 1 of 9 for 2 points in 20 minutes and, as usual, politely answered every question afterward.
"I know I still want to win," he said. "I've thought about it all year long because I have the option. I'm a Laker, plain and simple. It would definitely be hard to see myself playing somewhere else."