The Lakers welcomed Jordan Farmar back to the team Friday after the point guard finally completed his buyout with Turkish team Anadolu Efes Istanbul.
“I’ve been watching the Lakers since the moment I left,” Farmar said. “I stayed up every night while I was overseas, 2, 3, 4 a.m. in the morning watching games — just feeling that’s where I belong.”
Farmar won titles with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010. He left in free agency in 2010 to join the New Jersey Nets (now in Brooklyn), followed by stints overseas.
“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. “I played for Israel and a year in Istanbul. I’ve grown tremendously as a person and as a basketball player. Just the opportunity to get back here to what I consider home was something I wasn’t going to let anything stop or didn’t want to pass up.”
The exact amount of money Farmar gave up to leave Turkey is unclear, but estimates range from $5-10 million.
“I was fortunate enough to go away and make some money to set my family up and be comfortable this decision wasn’t really financial,” he said. “Barring major injury, I’m still 26 years old. I feel like I have a long time to play basketball.”
Farmar accepted a one-year deal with the Lakers that will pay him $1,106,941. The Lakers were able to contribute about $500,000 to his contract buyout, which won’t factor into the team’s salary cap and luxury tax computation.
“I just really wanted to make a sacrifice to be here. Not everyone is able to call the Lakers up and they take you,” Farmar said. “I thought it was important to do my part to make that happen. If that was sacrificing some dollars today, it was worth it for me.”
How he fits into the roster remains to be seen given the presence of Steve Nash and Steve Blake at the same position.
“I think we’ll be successful together,” Farmar said. “I’m not really too worried about it. I’m not worried about the competition or the confrontation. I think it will be smooth flowing and we’ll have a good time.”
Farmar said his game grew overseas.
“I got a chance to do a lot more. When I was here, the first time we were in the triangle, I was young I was just trying to fit in any way I could,” Farmar said. “Leaving, I got to play a lot more pick-and-roll basketball. Really going overseas I got to carry a whole team. The success of our team depended on how I played individually every night.”
Farmar also said his defense has improved significantly, especially this past season in Turkey playing for a defensive-minded coach.
“That’s an area I really want to focus on and contribute in this time around — be a pest and be a nuisance on defense. Try to pick up full court and create problems for the other team,” he said. Farmar is optimistic for the season ahead.
“I’m excited to get out there. Coming in and being young, I dreamed of playing in the Mike D’Antoni system,” he said. “Somewhere you can just be free and push the ball and make a lot of plays — I think it will be a lot of fun. -Eric Pincus