It is possible that Jordan Farmar may not get what he wants. What he wants is the same as his teammates, Jodie Meeks and Xavier Henry. What they all want is to return. But it is out of their hands. Yesterday, in an interview with Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, Jordan said “I have plans and high hopes to be here a long time”. On the one hand it speaks to how connected Jordan is to the decision he made almost a year ago to come back home. Jordan is from Los Angeles so he understand the mythology and history and how important it is to not be the worst team in Los Angeles Lakers history even when you are the worst team in Los Angeles Lakers history. Real maturity is accepting things you cannot change. Although frustrating and disappointing as this year has been, Jordan’s first year back did not change much. He was grateful to return, to be a Laker again even though it was not like the old days, it was not even close to that. But there are certain things you know and there are certain things you believe and there are certain things you work very hard for.
Injuries interrupt everything. They are self defeating. Nothing was constant for Jordan, nothing was linear. Beginning in training camp, Jordan’s injury issues were the first outlier. Jordan could not stay healthy and it all felt as if this was a dream deferred. There was no joy. It wasn’t supposed to be like this but be careful what you ask for. Whether it was the fast paced system that wreaked havoc upon Jordan’s body or if it was just the fluke nature of things and this season, Jordan only played in 36 games. So much more was expected of him. The 36 games played was a small sample size in which to judge his abilities and where he fits. The problem is that without an audition period his evaluation skews towards the financial. To bring Jordan back you will be committing to 4 point guards on the roster. Steve Nash. Kendall Marshall. Jordan Farmar. And a point guard to be drafted or signed as a free agent. 4 point guards are a rarity. Not one current Western Conference playoff team has a four point guard roster. Not the Spurs. Not the Clippers. Not the Thunder. So does that mean Jordan is the odd man out?
The Lakers have a point guard hole. They have the worst point guards in the Western Conference. They have amassed a bunch of back ups who cannot survive as starters. They have a 40 year old who is always injured. They have a D-league point guard who racks up assists but has no offensive game, can’t operate in the paint and is too slow to guard the opposing point guard. They have point guard who last year played in Turkey and the year before that Jordan played in Israel. He has missed much of this season. Not the most credible bunch to guard Ty Lawson or Isaiah Thomas or Jrue Holliday. And those are the point guards who are not in the playoffs. The truth of rebuilding is first you have to accept where you are. In the backcourt the Lakers have come to a dead end.
The Lakers are a boat that has a lot of holes springing leaks. Jordan’s presence addresses a need. His specialty is his toughness, his leadership and the three point shot. He is a nice catch and shoot player. He can also can hit a pull up three. His midrange has improved but in traffic around the rim he often loses the balance he needs to finish a three point play. He is a good dribbler with okay speed but not explosive speed and he doesn’t operate in the paint. His defense is okay; he is not a physical player but he can play some on ball defense and his hands are quick. More importantly Jordan is a winner. He understands the psychology of championship basketball. He is tough in games and doesn’t cave beneath the pressure of expectations and under the weight of failure. He doesn’t run and hide; he faces the music. He knows to compete at the highest level you have to believe at the highest level, you have to sacrifice and you have to want to get there.
But so much of the Lakers decisions these days are money based. In the scouting report, Jordan Farmar is more of a threat than Kendall Marshall. Jordan is more valuable on the court, his offense can win games. But he costs more too. Kendall will make $900,000 next year. Jordan’s price tag, regardless of how much he wants to stay, is a lot more than that. Steve Nash comes in at 9 million, a hefty price but the Lakers made their bed three years ago. Jordan is a better three point shooter than Kendall, a better defender, a better driver to the rim. He is not as good a passer. But he can run an offense.
Of course, none of this matters if Steve Nash retires. Then it makes sense to bring Jordan back. But if Nash comes back as expected and Nash comes off the bench, who starts? These are the questions to be answered before saying yes to Jordan Farmar. Does Jordan coming back mean Jodie doesn’t? Jordan will be a cheaper buy so is that enough of a reason? Of course Kobe is in the bring Jordan back camp. He won titles with Jordan, he trusts him.
But does Jordan’s body trust itself? The irony was that when the Lakers needed him most he couldn’t give them what he wanted and when they needed him the least he gave them everything. It was all spectacular in how it didn’t come true and it was deflating and exhausting but dreams rarely go as planned, life always gets in the way. Sometimes you just have to start over. Jordan has had many reinventions. From champion to New Jersey Net to Turkey to injured most of the year. He had a career high in blocks, steals, rebounds, 2 point shots, field goals. He also had a career high in turnovers. He was incredible opening night against the Clippers, sparking the 4th quarter run. He was dynamic against the Wizards, going 9-11, and against Brooklyn, in the first half, he sparkled. From there it all came to a halt and it hasn’t been the same since. And the Lakers have to wonder if that was the best of Jordan Farmer as a Laker.