Farmar likely out; Brown weighs options
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Jordan Farmar wouldn't go right out and say that this was the last time he would be seen with a backdrop bearing the Lakers logo behind him, but he did make sure to say goodbye to all of the media after his exit interview Tuesday, "in case I don't see you again."
The fourth year backup guard chosen at No. 26 by the Lakers in the 2006 NBA draft becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1. Despite playing high school basketball at Taft High School in Woodland Hills, college basketball at UCLA and his entire pro career with the Lakers, he seems ready to move on from the city of Los Angeles.
"I love L.A., [but] I think it's good for somebody to get away sometimes," Farmar said.
The Lakers other primary backup guard, Shannon Brown, who has a player option to earn $2.2 from the team next year, told AOL Fanhouse in April it would "make a lot of sense" to opt out of his contract and test the free agency market but refuted that report Tuesday.
"That's not what I said," Brown explained. "I had a meeting with coach [Phil Jackson] after that interview, but that's not what I said. I told him that I still had games to play. I told him I was going to focus on [my contract] after I got done with the championship ... Now we're at that point and I'm still thinking about it. It's one of those situations where I got a family, I got a life and there's a lot of people that depend on me."
Brown was selected one pick before Farmar in the '06 draft, going No. 25 to Cleveland, but bounced around on four teams in his first three years in the league before settling in with the Lakers in a midseason trade last year. The 6-foot-4 combo guard averaged career highs in points (8.1), rebounds (2.2), assists (1.3), steals (0.7) per game this season, played in all 82 games and became a fan favorite, riding a grassroots Web campaign, LetShannonDunk.com, into a berth in the slam dunk contest at NBA All-Star Weekend.
Brown, who turns 25 in November, said he has to weigh the opportunity of seeking a long-term contract, but when asked if his first option was coming back to the Lakers replied, "I would love to stay in L.A. and play for the Lakers. That's no question. I said that other day, 'I don't know why anyone would want to break up a championship team.'"
Brown also informed the assembled reporters that he would not have offseason surgery on his right thumb that he sprained against Indiana in the beginning of March.
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"I'm going to let it heal up naturally. I don't think it's going to require surgery," Brown said. "Catching the ball and all that still [presents] problems, but it's not anything that's going to hinder anything in the future."
A reporter later pressed Brown about the issue of returning to the team and the guard added, "I hope so. I hope so. I don't want to go nowhere. It's business that has to be talked about."
The hope for Farmar to remain in L.A. seems far more unlikely.
Farmar started only two regular season games in his career in L.A., both in his rookie season. He averaged 4.4 points and 1.9 assists in 15.1 minutes in his first year; 9.1 and 2.7 in 20.6 in his second year; 6.4 and 2.4 in 18.3 in his third year; and 7.2 and 1.5 in 18.0 this season.
"It's definitely a struggle for me because my role hasn't expanded much in four years," Farmar said. "That was kind of the plan going into every year, to get a little more and a little more and it's kind of stayed the same."
While his role didn't expand the way he would have liked it to, he enjoyed an amazing string of success in the city, following up his NCAA championship appearance in his sophomore year at UCLA with three trips to the NBA Finals in four years and winning two rings.
"For me in my career, I've always played at a championship level," Farmar said. "I definitely want to win and that's important to me, but I don't know if I could look back at the end of my career if didn't get a chance to see what kind of player I could really be, so this free agency is kind of what it's geared towards for me. I want to check that out and see the situation, whether it be here or elsewhere, where I really get a chance to see what I can do."
"It just let me feel that again every day, having the ball," he said.
"I really want to see what kind of player I can be in this league," Farmar said. "I want an opportunity to play more. I know I can do a lot. I know I can lead a team."
When Farmar was asked prior to Game 7 if playing the Celtics in a do-or-die situation to win a championship was a dream scenario for a L.A. native like himself, Farmar said if it was truly a dream scenario, he would be the Lakers starting point guard.
"If I come off the bench and continue to, that's just what is going to happen my whole career and I'm going to be looked at as that type of player when I feel I can do so, so much more," Farmar said before later adding, "I'm just looking forward to the next phase of life."
The Lakers have four other free agents on their 13-man roster. Starting point guard Derek Fisher has his exit interview Wednesday and just about every player who spoke with the media Tuesday emphasized how important it was to re-sign the 14-year veteran and Lakers co-captain. Backup forward Josh Powell's exit interview is scheduled for Friday.
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"I want to play more," Mbenga said, who averaged 2.1 points and 1.8 rebounds in 7.2 minutes per game. "I want to have more opportunity. I know there's a lot of opportunities for me now [in the free agent market], especially this year."
The 7-footer, who has been insurance for Andrew Bynum the last two seasons since joining the Lakers, did not rule out a return, however.
"We just have to fix some stuff," Mbenga said. "Some stuff I asked if they can do. If they can do, it would be great. I like the city. I like the team. I know pretty much everybody; it's like my family now. I've been around the guys, I know the system, I would love to come back. But you know how it goes; we have to talk about contract stuff."
Morrison, who joined the team with Brown in that midseason trade last year, was also used sparingly in his time with the team.
"I'm going to be a free agent, my agent said there's some interest around the league," Morrison said. "I'm not ruling it out [returning to the Lakers], but I didn't play so I don't know why they would want to bring me back."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter. http://twitter.com/mcten