For the first time this season, the Lakers will compete against a former teammate from the 2009-10 championship roster, as New Jersey’s Jordan Farmar takes the court for a 10 a.m. Pacific tip off on Sunday in Newark.
Farmar, also the backup point guard on the 2008-09 title team in Los Angeles, may actually have a chance to start against Derek Fisher … this because regular Nets starting PG Devin Harris is listed as a game-time decision* due to a hard fall on his shoulder in a Thursday loss to Dallas.
*UPDATE: Harris will start.
Phil Jackson, who coached Farmar throughout his three seasons in Los Angeles, said that he and his staff “keep an eye on him” and track how Farmar’s doing. Jackson said that the team’s decision not to re-sign Farmar was a financial one more so than a basketball one.
“Jordan’s a talented athlete and he should have a good NBA career… Jordan helped us win,” Jackson said, specifically recalling a few key moments such as Game 3 of the Western Semi’s against Houston in 2009 when Farmar played very well in a starting role due to Derek Fisher’s suspension.
Farmar has started two games for the Nets this season, and has been an effective offensive option off the bench in 21 other games, averaging 10.4 points per game plus 4.6 assists and 1.09 steals in 26.1 minutes, all career highs. He’s shooting 35.6 percent from three, but only 38.4 percent overall from the field, offsetting his much-improved free throw percentage of 85.4 percent.
Farmar said he’s happy in New Jersey both on and off the court, boosted away from the arena by his baby girl (five-month old Phoenix Farmar) and at the arena by an increased role with the team.
“I’m getting a chance to play basketball in a little different light, do some more things on the floor, have the ball in my hand, run the team,” he said. “It’s been a growing process, a good experience for me.”
Nets Coach Avery Johnson has often deployed a two-point-guard line up of both Harris and Farmar down the stretch of games, though New Jersey has struggled while winning only six times with 17 losses. While Farmar is optimistic about New Jersey’s future and is taking the long view with a young team that has room to grow, he naturally misses his old teammates.
“Those guys are family in (the Lakers locker room),” he said. “We’ve been through wars together. I wish them nothing but the best except when we’re going against each other. I miss those guys, but at the same time, I love the new guys we have here and what we’re working towards. Our record doesn’t show how far we’ve come this season.”
Farmar’s best friend on the Lakers, Luke Walton, met Farmar for dinner in New York City on Saturday night, while he said he keeps in touch with several other players as well.
Lakers fans will have a chance to see the L.A. native Farmar back at STAPLES Center on Jan. 14*, while fellow former teammates D.J. Mbenga (New Orleans) and Josh Powell (Atlanta) come to Los Angeles on Jan. 7 and Feb. 22, respectively.
*The Lakers will present Farmar (and then Powell and Mbenga) with his 2010 championship ring prior to that contest in a pregame ceremony.