Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown approaching free agency with differing attitudes
Lakers guard Jordan Farmar sat upstairs in the Lakers' practice facility, outlining in detail to Coach Phil Jackson and General Manager Mitch Kupchak his view that his role hasn't changed in the last four seasons.
"That was kind of the plan going into every year, which was getting a little more and a little more and it's kind of stayed the same," Farmar said. "For me, that's been tough."
Guard Shannon Brown sat in the same office, agreeing with Jackson and Kupchak that his main goal should entail marked improvement.
"They feel I made progress with the things I have done," Brown said. "It's all about getting better."
Brown pointed to his short shelf life with four teams in his first four seasons as a possibility why he'd prefer staying with the Lakers.
"I would definitely love to come back here," he said.
Farmar pointed to his L.A.-centric basketball career, which has included playing for Taft High School, UCLA and the Lakers, as a reason he'd leave his hometown.
"I think it's good for somebody to get away sometimes," he said.
Farmar shook hands with reporters after his exit interview Monday, forewarning that this may be the last time he'd see us. Brown shook hands with reporters after his session, hoping this wouldn't be a goodbye.
Both players face uncertainty regarding their future with the Lakers.
"They haven't really discussed or decided much about what the situation is going to be next year," said Farmar, who earned $1.9 million last season and will become a restricted free agent July 1. The Lakers can match any offer he receives.
"I'm still thinking about it," said Brown, who can opt out of his contract.
Both acknowledged that they would prefer a more significant role than the ones they had in the 2009-10 season.
"For my career," Farmar said, "I need to establish myself as somebody who can lead a team and play big minutes and be a lead guard."
Added Brown,"You don't want to go nowhere and just sit on the bench."
And both players are rather close. They leaned on each other during uncertain moments of playing time and they even capped their exit interviews with an appearance together Tuesday night at Playhouse Hollywood.
Yet, their attitudes couldn't be any more different. Farmar thinks he has put in the work and seen little benefit. Brown thinks the hard work he has put in expedited his opportunities. Farmar seems willing to give up playing with a championship team in hopes that he lands a starting position somewhere else. Brown seems to want to stay with the Lakers, knowing that the strong supporting cast will only foster his learning growth. Farmar views Derek Fisher's playoff success as a reason why his chances of staying are dwindling. Brown views Fisher's success as a model to follow.
The latest snapshot regarding Fisher and Brown shows the same inconsistency that plagued the Lakers' bench all season. And it's a reason the two face uncertainty about whether they will remain with the Lakers. Their erratic and unpredictable play often left Jackson limiting their minutes. But Farmar's energy and Brown's athleticism provided Jackson a legitimate reason to give them playing time. Farmar expressed reluctance to play a bench role because he's afraid he'll be pigeon-holed as a utility player. Brown showed reluctance to embrace his reputation for making theatrical dunks because he wants to be a complete player. Farmar and Brown often played outside of the triangle offense. But Farmar's disruption pointed more to his desire to do things on his own. Brown's disruption pointed more to him figuring things out on his own. Farmar often was beaten on defense because of poor effort. Brown often was beaten on defense because of poor awareness.
Both also had moments of greatness. Farmar's fourth quarter in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals and his loose-ball dive over Rajon Rondo in Game 6 of the NBA Finals stood out as signature plays. Brown's two energetic dunks in the same contest as well as his trip to the All-Star dunk contest signified his tremendous growth this season, though the latter appearance also coincided with his performance dipping after the All-Star break.
The relationship between Farmar and the coaching staff has often appeared disconnected. Farmar thinks the coaches' distrust in his abilities has stunted his growth. The coaching staff thinks Farmar's distrust in the triangle offense has stunted his growth. The relationship between Brown and the coaching staff suggests an understanding. Brown openly admits his weaknesses but thinks his work ethic will overcome those lapses
Both face uncertainty about where they will land. But it's safe to say that Farmar's and Brown's differing attitudes toward the organization will significantly affect their futures.
-- Mark Medina