Farmar and other new Nets see opportunity in NJ
AP Sports Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) – Leaving home and the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers for the NBA’s worst team was a rather easy decision for Jordan Farmar.
If the former UCLA point guard stayed with Kobe Bryant and company, he would always be the trusted backup with a couple of rings – ‘Little Jordie.’
Coming to the New Jersey Nets, Farmar sees the chance to play more, to get away from the triangle offense and to develop into a starter under Avery Johnson.
It’s a no-brainer, even if the Nets posted a 12-70 record last season.
Remarkably, it also was almost the same line that forward Travis Outlaw, guard Anthony Morrow and center Johan Petro uttered on Thursday in their first meeting with the media since joining the team in the recent free-agent frenzy.
“It’s going to be fun,” Farmar said of the move, which earned him a new three-year, $12 million contract. “It’s going to be interesting to be part of something special, to be part of the rebuilding process. We have a new owner, a new coach, working on a new arena, some big things with this organization are heading in the right direction. They are committed to winning, and that’s what I am all about.”
A four-year veteran, Farmar averaged 6.9 points and 2.1 rebounds in 301 games with the Lakers.
Farmar joins the Nets knowing that he already is No. 2 on the depth chart behind former All-Star Devin Harris. He accepts that role in some ways, but doesn’t hide his desire to become a starter, or at least play in the same backcourt with Harris.
“The only way to play in this league is to play, to be on the floor,” Farmar said. “That was important to me, and not just on the floor standing, but on the floor doing things and being a part of the game. If they double team and kick it out, I’m going to knock it down or make plays for my teammates. That’s what intrigued me about this situation.”
The most difficult part of his decision was the realization that he was leaving home and the organization he grew up loving as a kid.
“You have a little window where you can do as much as you can, and, for me, I wanted to see what type of player I could be in this league,” Farmer said. “I’m taking this opportunity to really try to improve and make the most of my potential and my ability, so when I look back on my career, I know I gave it my best shot to see what I can do in this league.”
Outlaw gives the young Nets a small forward with seven years experience.
There are some question marks. A foot injury limited his season to 34 games with Portland and the Clippers, and he was obviously a step slow when he came back from his injury. It also made his market value debatable.
“I was nervous,” said Outlaw, who signed a five-year, $35 million contract on Wednesday. “I was hoping people don’t think I was out of it.”
Outlaw said the foot feels great now and he is hopeful about next season.
“I looked at all the talent this team has,” Outlaw said. “I see improvement can happen.”
Morrow, who was acquired from Golden State in a sign-and-trade deal, gives New Jersey one of the league’s top 3-point shooters.
“I see this as an opportunity and the thing that helps me the most is that everyone is new pretty much,” Morrow said. “Coach Johnson, new GM, new owner, so I feel like can come in, put my work in and hopefully we can turn this around this year.”
The 7-foot Petro gives New Jersey a backup for Brook Lopez, and he only will cost them an average of $3.33 million annually.
Besides a tough big guy who isn’t afraid to deliver a hard foul or two, Petro knows what it is like to play for a bad team. He was with Oklahoma City when they were really bad, then went to Denver.
“We used to lose every night and Denver was the opposite, just the winning mentality,” Petro said. “I learned that the past two years and that’s something I want to keep happening and I know what to do to make it happen.”