Jordan Farmar's move to New Jersey could provide a bigger opportunity, or just more frustration
Jordan Farmar may soon find out just how frustrating the NBA can really become.
He often lamented during his four-year tenure with the Lakers his lack of playing time, how the triangle offense limited his game and how there never seemed to be enough opportunities for him to succeed. That's why it shouldn't come as a surprise that he officially parted ways with the Lakers on Sunday. It almost seemed inevitable that he wouldn't be part of the organization, particularly with how obvious he made it out to be during his exit interview that he'd like to test the market, get away from L.A. and see where his career can take him.
What seems surprising is the alternative. The Times' Broderick Turner reported that Farmar accepted a three-year, $12-million offer from the New Jersey Nets and will play behind starting point guard Devin Harris. In New Jersey, Farmar's frustration may go beyond playing time and the triangle offense.
Sure, the Nets' new owner, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, seems to be breathing new life into the organization. The team also seems to have a promising future with the low-post presence of Brook Lopez and Derrick Favors. Farmar gets a pay raise from $1.24 million to $4 million. Farmar's game will flourish now that his playmaking abilities won't be as constricted as they were in the triangle. And Farmar is likely to have more of a chance to lead a team than he ever would with the Lakers -- you know, since the team features the likes of Kobe Bryant and Co.But I honestly don't see how Farmar's career will benefit from playing for the Nets beyond having a marginal bump in statistical performances and minutes. Much of Farmar's inconsistency with the Lakers pointed more to his poor decision-making and poor effort on defense than limited opportunities. Most of Farmar's impressive performances with the Lakers happened in waves, making it hard to predict whether more chances would've resulted in a steady line graph, or if it would've just featured more peaks and valleys. When you weigh those variables, the fact that the Lakers are the two-time defending champs and New Jersey is coming off a league-worst 12-70 record, there's no question that Farmar will face plenty of additional challenges next season.
He openly expressed in detail why he considered leaving during his exit interview, pointing to his frustration that he didn't want to be pigeonholed as a utility player. He also shared his unhappiness that after his playing time went from 15.1 minutes to 20.6 from the 2006-07 season to the 2007-08 season, his minutes dipped to 18.3 in 2008-09 and 18 last season. And with Derek Fisher's playoff emergence and the Lakers looking to shed costs, Farmar didn't sound exactly optimistic during his exit interview that the Lakers would want to keep him. He also probably saw the writing on the wall when the Lakers signed veteran guard Steve Blake.But Farmar's desire to go elsewhere matched the Lakers' interest in parting ways because his attitude made it harder for the team to tolerate his inconsistency. That's why the Lakers view Shannon Brown differently and are considering in keeping him so long as it's financially feasible. That's why it will also be interesting to see whether Farmar's career actually begins to flourish with New Jersey, or it if it will continue to produce more frustrating moments.
That's because he won't automatically be given the starting role, a variable Farmar originally said he hoped to find somewhere else. He also won't be part of a winning culture with winning championships and with playing with heavy talent, two consolations Lakers reserves have routinely said help get them through their frustrations with lacking minutes. And Farmar's not exactly known to have outstanding leadership qualities, a variable he may need to improve if he's asked to carry lots of the team's burden.
There's no doubt Farmar's career will drastically change and be redefined beginning next season. But it's unclear everything will turn out the way he wants. And this time, he has only himself to blame.
-- Mark Medina
Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: twitter.com/latmedina. E-mail the Lakers blog at email@example.com
Photo: Jordan Farmar. Credit: CJ Gunther / EPA