Signings show changing culture between Clippers, Lakers

PLAYA VISTA, Calif. — The case of Jordan Farmar might be the best example of how the cultures between the Clippers and the Lakers have changed.

One minute after the NBA free-agency period began, Clippers coach Doc Rivers called Farmar to express his interest in signing the point guard.

The Lakers couldn’t make up their minds.

"It wasn’t really a difficult decision for me," Farmar said Thursday after he and Spencer Hawes were formally introduced as the newest members of the Clippers.

In fact, it was pretty simple. Rivers, the Clippers president of basketball operations, made it clear that he wanted Farmar as a backup to Chris Paul. Farmar also spoke to Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak, but there was no clear direction where the team was going.

"We spoke back and forth a few times," Farmar said. "They just weren’t ready to do anything, and they didn’t know what the future held for them and who was going to be there and what that meant for me.

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"If they wanted me to be there, they could have easily called as much as Doc and been the first one and said, ‘This is our plan and if it doesn’t happen or if it does, this is what we want.’ That’s not how it happened."

Farmar, 27, signed a two-year deal for $4.2 million after averaging 10.1 points and 4.9 assists in 41 games for the Lakers last season. It marked his second stint with the team after he played on two NBA championship teams.

As much as anything, Farmar, a former UCLA standout, said he was swayed by the chance to stay at home.

"Los Angeles is really special to me," he said. "This is home. I get a chance to live in my house, be around my friends and family, let them see my kids grow up. Those are things that are important to me outside of basketball."

The signings close two gaps for the Clippers, who needed a backup point guard after Darren Collison signed with the Sacramento Kings and lacked a big man to play behind center DeAndre Jordan and forward Blake Griffin.

"One of the things we needed all year, and everyone talked about it, was size," Rivers said. "We needed more size and we needed more skills. Spencer was our target. We called him very early, and the moment we could make a call, we called."

Hawes, 26, is a seven-year NBA veteran who spent last season with Philadelphia and Cleveland. The 7-foot-1 center averaged 13.2 points and 8.2 rebounds and is an adept three-point shooter. Last season, he made 42 percent of his long-distance shots.

But signing on was not something he took lightly.

"Any time you make a decision of that magnitude, it’s difficult," he said. "You want to make sure that you get as much information as possible and leave no stone unturned. But you get to a point where you trust your gut.

"Speaking with Doc, when he tells you something you buy in. You believe it right away. His sell from the beginning was strong."

That clearly also had an effect on Farmar, who couldn’t ignore Rivers’ unabashed interest. In fact, Farmer was returning from a family vacation when Rivers made contact as soon as the free-agent period began.

"I had just landed as LAX and my phone started ringing as soon as I got (cell) service," he said. "He was the first person that called and kept calling and was persistent, and that was a good feeling, to feel wanted and feel you’re going to be a part of something special."