Jordan Farmar has returned to his hometown team, the Los Angeles Lakers. He has accepted a minimum contract despite having over $10 million in guaranteed salary he was making overseas with his Turkish club Anadolu Efes.
"I wouldn't be playing for the minimum anywhere but the Lakers," Farmar told media during his introductory press conference Friday.
It was clear as he spoke about re-joining the Lakers that he was genuinely happy to come home. He spoke of how isolated he was overseas and how the 10 hour time zone difference made it difficult to communicate with his friends back home. Still, he kept an eye on the Lakers, watching his former team play until two or three in the morning.
It was Farmar's persistence to return home to Los Angeles that stood out to Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak. Farmar and the organization had been in contact during the 2012-2013 season but were aware of the hurdles of prying Farmar away from his overseas club.
How was the long-shot possibility turned into a reality? Kupchak used the words persistent and aggressive when discussing the process Farmar underwent to get back to the purple and gold.
"Through Jordan's persistence. Not his persistence to make us desire to bring him back. Persistence that we can get this done," Kupchak said while discussing the complications of the buyout with Anadolu Efes.
"Simple was not very simple. It was complex," he added.
Farmar will return to wearing number one, a number he switched to after initially taking five when the Lakers drafted him with pick No. 26 in the 2006 NBA Draft. Farmar left Los Angeles in 2010 to join the New Jersey Nets. Since leaving the states in 2012 he appreciates the back-to-back titles he captured with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. The weight of the prior success he was a part of was clear to him when his overseas teammates would ask him if they could see his rings just to admire them.
"For me its been a little bit of a journey. Last time I sat here I was 23 years old. I was part of back-to-back championship teams and looking for areas to grow in my life and career. I feel like I've done that since then," Farmar said of his experience since leaving L.A.
"I've grown tremendously as a person and a basketball player. The opportunity to get back here, which I consider home, is something I wouldn't let anything stop," he added.
When Famar was last with the Lakers he was a point guard in a system that doesn't involve very much point guard play, the Triangle. He has since played in New Jersey where they used plenty of screen and rolls, and he also had the opportunity to pick the brain of Deron Williams. In Turkey, however, Farmar stated pick-and-roll was "all [they] did."
"Coming up and being young I dreamed of being in Mike D'Antoni's system," Farmar said of the new approach he'll be asked to take this time around in Los Angeles.
Between all the talk of offense and systems, defense was also a point of discussion. The Lakers struggled defensively last season, particularly on the perimeter. Farmar falls into line with two other point guards who have consistently shown they can and will be beaten by any number of the star talent at the seemingly league-wide stacked position.
At 26, Farmar can provide young legs and athleticism not otherwise found in the point guard fold. Better, while overseas their focus was on the defensive end of the floor.
"Our coach over there preached [defense] every day. Don't get beat was his philosophy," Farmar said when discussing his desire to focus on the defensive side of the ball.
Providing defense can be Farmar's leverage in finding minutes on a roster with Steve Blake and Steve Nash to compete with. Nash turns 40 in February and could benefit from having his minute load monitored after a injury-filled 2012-2013 campaign for the Lakers.
If there's an area Farmar can differentiate himself from his contemporaries, it's on the defensive side of the ball.
"That's an area I really want to focus on and contribute in this time around. Be a pest and a nuisance... Defense is a will thing. Just wanting to get stops and wanting to be a problem is what it's all about," Farmar added as he discussed picking up players full court and applying pressure on ballhandlers.
The Lakers enter the 2013-2014 season with plenty of uncertainty around them. The roster is filled with one-year contracts and question marks on those who carried over. Can Kobe Bryant make a full recovery, and when will he actually get back on the court? Will Pau Gasol move more fluid on both offense and defense after undergoing surgery this summer to regrow tissue in his knees and alleviate pain? What does Steve Nash have left in the tank to give Los Angeles as he turns another decade older.
One thing that can be counted on, however, is the elation Farmar has about being back in a Lakers uniform.
"That's where I belong. That's where I felt most comfortable."
Quotes taken from Lakers.com's live stream of Jordan Farmar's press conference