Jordan Farmar agrees with Lakers
The sides agreed to a one-year, veteran minimum deal worth approximately $1 million. L.A. must first negotiate a buyout with Farmar's club in Turkey, Anadolu Efes, which is believed to be in the $500,000 range. The buyout does not count against the salary cap, an important detail to the luxury tax-laden Lakers.
The deal required a significant financial sacrifice by Farmar to be completed. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound guard signed a three-year, $10.5 million deal last summer to play in the Turkish Basketball League.
"They knew about my deal overseas and really didn't push it earlier because they didn't think I'd be willing to give up that guaranteed money I had over there," Farmar said in a phone interview with ESPNLosAngeles.com. "I wanted to be back in the NBA, but more importantly, back with the Lakers. This is the only situation I would have taken a minimum deal with."
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Farmar, 26, grew up in L.A. and played his first four professional seasons with the Lakers after being drafted in the first round out of UCLA in 2006. He was a key reserve on the Lakers' championship teams in 2008-09 and 2009-10.
"I've been a Laker since I was born," Farmar said. "I grew up a Laker fan, so regardless of where I am or who I'm playing for, or what I'm doing in life, I'm always going to stay connected to what's going on here [in Los Angeles]."
After leaving L.A. as a free agent in 2010, he spent parts of two seasons with the New Jersey Nets, scoring a career-high 10.4 points per game on a career-best 44 percent 3-point shooting in 2011-12.
Farmar was traded to the Atlanta Hawks in the Joe Johnson deal after that season, but had his contract bought out and played last season with Anadolu Efes, averaging 13.8 points and 3.9 assists in 29 games played. Farmar also played seven games for Israel's Maccabi Electra of the EuroLeague during the NBA lockout in the summer of 2011.
"The plan for me was to get back to the NBA eventually regardless," Farmar said. "I really, really enjoyed my time in Israel. I thought it was a possibility that it would be exactly the same [in Turkey] and I would hop on over there and never look back and I would make good money overseas, but just being over there and staying up until 2, 3, 4 in the morning and watching every NBA game, or watching the Lakers go through what they were going through was just tough.
"I missed my family, I missed being home and, ultimately, I missed being a Laker."
Farmar has played primarily at point guard throughout his NBA career, making him the third point guard on a Lakers team that already has Steve Nash and Steve Blake under contract. However, Farmar said he has spoken to coach Mike D'Antoni about playing some shooting guard as well, especially in the early going as Kobe Bryant recovers from a ruptured Achilles tendon.
"We talked about it a lot," Farmar said. "Me being able to play both positions and Steve Blake being able to play both positions, if we wanted to go small to move Kobe [Bryant] down [to small forward] and Jodie Meeks down and stuff like that [we could do that]. … It was important. [D'Antoni's] system is going to be to open it up and he wants to get a lot of guard play and decision-makers on the floor together at times."
Farmar gives L.A. nine players under contract for next season. Bryant, Nash, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace, Blake, Jordan Hill, Jodie Meeks and Chris Kaman, whom L.A. agreed to ink to a deal when the league moratorium is lifted Wednesday, are the others.
They have also extended a qualifying offer to Robert Sacre, making him a restricted free agent, and drafted Ryan Kelly in the second round. If they both make the team, that puts the roster at 11. The roster could dip down back to 10 if L.A. decides to exercise its amnesty clause, with World Peace being the most likely candidate. It all adds up to the Lakers still looking to add three to four more players on veteran minimum deals before the season begins, while still maintaining their goal of having every player but Nash come off the books next summer in the hopes of making a major splash in free agency.
"I think it's a work in progress right now," Farmar said. "We're trying to put things together and still leave flexibility for the future."
Farmar said he is looking forward to slipping back into his No. 1 purple and gold uniform.
"I think it will be an amazing feeling, man," Farmar said. "At the end of the day, I'll always feel like I'm a Laker, regardless of I'm here or somewhere else. I'm happy just to be back and to be able to help this team go wherever we can this year and I would love to be here for the future, so we'll see how it works out."