The Clippers have agreed to sign unrestricted free agent guard Jordan Farmar to a two-year contract worth $4.2 million, according to the Los Angeles Times and NBA.com. L.A. will use its bi-annual exception to ink Farmar, who spent the 2013-14 season with the crosstown Lakers. The deal reportedly includes a player option on the second year.
Farmar, 27, is a Southern California native who spent two seasons at UCLA before being selected in the first round of the 2006 draft by the Lakers. After playing on the Lakers' 2009 and 2010 championship teams, Farmar signed with the Nets in 2010 and played professionally in Israel and Turkey before returning to the NBA last season.
"The Clippers were the first people to call, they came the hardest," Farmar told the Los Angeles Times. "The situation is great for me. I'm still in L.A., representing Los Angeles and playing in front of my friends and family."
Last year, Farmar averaged 10.1 points and 4.9 assists in 41 games for the Lakers, but he dealt with hamstring and groin injuries that sidelined him for long stretches. When healthy, he did well running the Lakers' second unit and shot 43.8 percent from deep. Farmar will replace departing back-up point guard Darren Collison, who agreed to sign a three-year, $16 million contract with the Kings.
The Clippers must be mindful of their dollars and cents as they work around the max contracts given to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, and their decision to replace Collison by snagging Farmar is a textbook value play. Here's a side-by-side look at the two players from last season, which show Collison owning a slight edge.
Collison: 25.9 minutes, 11.4 points, 3.7 assists, 2.4 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 1.7 turnovers, 46.7 FG%, 37.6 3P%, 16.2 PER
Farmar: 22.2 minutes, 10.1 points, 4.9 assists, 2.5 rebounds, 0.9 steals, 2.3 turnovers, 41.5 FG%, 43.8 3P%, 15 PER
The biggest difference between the two players is their durability, as Farmar missed more than twice as many games last season as Collison has missed in his entire career. If you were picking between the two as a full-time starter, regardless of any other factors, the choice would be Collison. In addition to being more reliable, he's also more experienced: Farmar has never started on a consistent basis in the NBA, while Collison led the Clippers to a 26-9 record last season when Paul was sidelined.
However, Los Angeles didn't have the ability to make an apples-to-apples decision between the two players, as they were on track to be luxury tax payers while also needing to fortify their frontcourt. Instead of paying up to keep Collison, they agreed to sign unrestricted free agent center Spencer Hawes with their mid-level exception before using their lesser exception to add Farmar. That looks like a savvy choice.
Had the Clippers instead re-signed Collison and looked to add a big man on a cheap, they would have found that the available options were significantly less appealing than Hawes, who was included among SI.com's "Top 25 Free Agents of 2014" thanks to his outside shooting ability. The Clippers would also have been paying a fairly large salary to a player who would have been, by definition, stuck in Paul's shadow.
By downgrading modestly from Collison to Farmar, Clippers coach Doc Rivers ensured he would be able to add the third big man that his roster has desperately needed. Rivers also avoided breaking the bank, as Farmar will earn roughly one-third of Collison's salary on a per-year basis while arriving on a shorter deal too.