F.Scott Fitzgerald famously quipped that “there are no second acts in American lives” but that axiom doesn’t encompass the complicated world of American professional sports. More than other franchises, the Lakers have a history of bringing back former stalwarts from championship teams past. Kurt Rambis, Byron Scott, A.C. Green, and Derek Fisher all returned to Los Angeles near the end of their careers.
Jordan Farmar’s case is different in that he was seemingly jettisoned from a two time defending champion that was looking for an heir apparent at its point guard position. During his last season in Los Angeles, Farmar openly pined for a new system in which to show his talents. He felt he was deserving of a starting job and a richer contract. While he had a passing flirtation with the Indiana Pacers, who chose George Hill, Jordan found there were no starting jobs available for him.
He got his raise, but was placed behind Deron Williams with the woeful New Jersey Nets. The recent list of young Lakers supposedly leaving for greener pastures only to see their careers crater are legion (see Clark, Earl). While he played well in New Jersey, Farmar found himself out of the NBA by the 2012-2013 season with no clear path back.
Time heals all wounds and circumstances make reunions possible. With the Lakers strapped for cash entering the 2013-2014 season and looking for good cheap talent, and with Farmar wanting back in the NBA, the opportunity for Jordan to return presented itself. Of all the offseason signings by the Lakers’ front office, his return turned out to be the best.
Jordan Farmar showed growth, leadership, and proved that he is one of the NBA’s best long range shooters. Although he was limited to just 41 games due to hamstring and groin injuries, Farmar was on many nights the team’s best player and leader. At age 27, he still has room to grow.
For the season, Farmar averaged 10.1 points a game with 4.9 assists in just 22 minutes a night. Both stats were near career highs, but his production in starter’s minutes this season gave hope that the Lakers have a potential starter at an affordable price for next season and beyond, if the Lakers can’t land a blue chipper. He finished 6th in the NBA in 3 point shooting percentage at 43.8%. Inside the line however, he had the worst performance of his career, making less than 40% of his 2 point shots. Farmar has yet to develop a floater or a runner to help supplement his deep shooting. As a passer and defender, however, he has improved significantly.His championship experience and relationship with Kobe Bryant, gives Farmar a certification few Lakers past or present possess.
If Mike D’Antoni remains the coach, Farmar showed the acumen to run the pick roll and create good shots for others and was the best equipped on the roster to slow down opposing point guards. If the Lakers go in another direction stylistically, Farmar’s shooting and big game experience are invaluable whether as a starter or elite reserve.
As the Lakers rebuild into championship contention, an old face is once again a building block to the future. Both the Lakers and Farmar realize they need each other. This time the brash youngster has become the seasoned vet. Overpaying for 2nd or 3rd tier point guards would be a mistake with so many holes elsewhere in the roster. Farmar as a placeholder while a young draft pick develops, say Dante Exum, would be the organization’s best bet.