FARMAR SPEAKS

When it was all said and done, the Lakers did right by Jordan Farmar Wednesday when they declined to give the restricted guard a one-year, $2.8 million contract offer.

Because now Farmar gets exactly what he wants: Unrestricted free agency and an opportunity to shop himself around the NBA as a potential starting point guard.

Farmar and his agent asked the Lakers not to exercise their right to make the offer, which essentially means they will receive nothing in return if Farmar does leave as a free agent.

Had they done so, the Lakers could have matched any contract offer made to Farmar by other teams, severely limiting his maneuverability.

“I really appreciate what they did, because they didn’t have to, they could have treated me like a piece of real estate and potentially hurt my ability to take a serious look at what might be out there for me,” Farmar said by phone Wednesday. “So for that, I am thankful.”

The move doesn’t officially end Farmar’s Lakers career, which began four years ago when they drafted him in the first round out of UCLA and spanned three NBA Finals appearances and two world championships, but it’s very likely he won’t be back next season.

By all indications, the Lakers will bring back Derek Fisher, which would have meant another year as a backup rather than a starting job for Farmar.

And at this point in his career, the former Taft of Woodland Hills star wants a chance to branch out as a starter, to find out if he can be an upper-echelon point guard in the NBA, preferably with a team that runs an up-tempo offense rather than the slower triangle.

“That’s my goal, and I want to see what opportunities are out there for me as a starter,” Farmar said. “I know there is interest, and I’m looking forward to exploring my options. It’s something I’ve been looking forward to.”

Farmar, 23, is grateful for his time with his hometown Lakers, and if he does move on he will look back on his career in Los Angeles with fondness.

“I love everything about the organization, my teammates and this city,” Farmar said. “But ultimately I want a chance to start, and it’s something I looked forward to every single year here, but it just never happened. All I’ve ever wanted was a legitimate chance to start.”

Now he may finally get it.

VINCENT BONSIGNORE

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Farmar update

The Lakers declined to offer a one-season qualifying offer worth $2.8 million to guard Jordan Farmar, making him an unrestricted free agent tonight at 9:01. Had they offered the deal to Farmar, he would have been a restricted free agent and they could have matched offers from other teams. Now he’s a walk-away free agent, which is what he wanted. It’s still possible, although unlikely, that he will re-sign with the Lakers. It’s more likely he will sign with another team as he hopes to find an enhanced role and a bigger paycheck.

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Brown opts out

Backup guard Shannon Brown has opted to terminate his contract with the Lakers and will become a free agent tonight at 9:01 p.m., agent Mark Bartelstein said. Brown hopes to re-sign with the Lakers. He was due to make a little more than $2 million in 2010-11, but hopes to get a significant raise over more seasons. “No question he wants to remain with the Lakers,” Bartelstein said. “Last year, he was offered more by a bunch of teams, but he wanted to stick with the Lakers. The Lakers knew all along this was the plan.”

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Contract status (updated)

Here’s the 2009-10 roster with contract status for next season and beyond:

Ron Artest, forward, signed through 2013-14 (early termination option for 2013-14).
Shannon Brown, guard, exercised option to terminate his contract early.
Kobe Bryant, guard, signed through 2013-14.
Andrew Bynum, center, signed through 2012-13.
Jordan Farmar, guard, restricted free agent.
Derek Fisher, guard, unrestricted free agent.
Pau Gasol, forward/center, signed through 2013-14.
DJ Mbenga, center, unrestricted free agent.
Adam Morrison, forward, restricted free agent.
Lamar Odom, forward, signed through 2013-14 (non-guaranteed for 2013-14).
Josh Powell, forward, unrestricted free agent.
Sasha Vujacic, guard, signed through 2010-11.
Luke Walton, forward, signed through 2012-13.

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Shaw to Cavs?

Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw sure looks like he’s the next coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. The deal isn’t done yet, however. Various news outlets have reported Shaw is the leading candidate to replace the departed Mike Brown. But how close he is to being offered the job and accepting it is in some doubt. Shaw met with Cleveland officials Monday and again today. It would appear it’s just a matter of ironing out some details, if the reports are accurate. Byron Scott and Tom Izzo also were interviewed.

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Artest takes center stage at MH+L Magazine release party

Ron Artest continues to bask in the aftermath of the Lakers win over the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals, and in the process he is giving fans a chance to see a different side of him.

Artest has been busy since the Finals doing the TV talk-show circuit and making the radio rounds, and on Friday he helped kick off MH+L magazine’s release party with a live performance of his new Rap single “Champions” along with Rap star and producer T-Pain.

I have to say, Ron looked pretty comfortable up on stage as he performed in front of about 300 or so VIP guests at J Lounge in downtown L.A.

The song, which he actually cut last year shortly after the Lakers ousted his Houston Rockets in seven games in the Western Conference playoffs, is not bad at all, and Ron seemed very much in his element while performing it.

“It’s funny because this is a side of me not too many fans know exists, but this is the music I love and people are slowly starting to recognize that I’m pretty decent, that I can do it,” Artest said.

As far as any stage fright, you can forget it. Artest looked more comfortable up there then he did playing in the triangle offense earlier this season.

“Initially I get a little nervous, but as soon as I hit the stage and the fans go crazy, boom, I am ready to go,” he said.

Artest is obviously enjoying his new-found celebrity, but he understands it all starts with what happens on the basketball court.

And it obviously doesn’t hurt he now calls Los Angeles home, and the team he plays for just happens to be the world champions.

“I’m just blessed to be in Los Angeles playing for the Lakers. The city makes the Lakers and the Lakers make me, and without any of that, there isn’t any of this,” Artest said. “And now that I have been blessed to win a championship, to be a champion, it’s given me the opportunity to come out here and perform and gave some fun.”

Music and rapping has always been a part of Artest’s life, a chance for him to express himself through his writing and performing.

“It’s something I’ve always enjoyed,” Artest said. “It comes from the heart, being able to go up there on stage and touch some people. I really love it.

“The key for me is keeping it real and trying to be inspirational. It’s not an easy thing, taking your feelings and your words and trying to make a song people will like. But I enjoy the process.”

VINCENT BONSIGNORE

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Lakers pick Ebanks, Caracter

The Lakers used the first of their two second-round picks to select Devin Ebanks, a sophomore forward from West Virginia. He’s 6-foot-9 and weighs 215. He’s a strong defender and rebounder. ESPN’s Jay Bilas called him a “non-shooter,” which is not exactly a ringing endorsement of his offensive skills. Ebanks averaged 12 points on 45.7 percent shooting plus a team-leading 8.1 rebounds last season. He helped lead the Mountaineers to the Final Four for the first time since 1951. He was third team All-Big East. He also made the Big East All-Rookie team as a freshman.

Then the Lakers picked forward Derrick Caracter, a junior from UTEP, with the 58th pick. Caracter played two seasons at Louisville before transferring to UTEP. He averaged 14.1 points and 8.1 rebounds in 27 games last season for the Miners. He shot 56.7 percent, good for 16th-best in the country in 2009-10 and second-best in Conference USA.

GM Mitch Kupchak said both players would play for the Lakers’ summer league team next month in Las Vegas. If they perform well in Las Vegas, they will be invited to training camp. If they do well there, they could make the team. Salary cap and luxury tax concerns might make it easier for each player to win a spot on the roster since their salaries would be considerably less than a free agent’s. The Lakers’ payroll of $91.4 million was the highest in the NBA last season.

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Draft night

Draft night at the Lakers’ headquarters in El Segundo has come to be known as The Big Wait. The Lakers have a pair of second-round picks tonight, at 43 and 58. It’s going to be a while, so the fine PR staff here has ordered deli sandwiches and all the fixin’s.

Here’s David Stern to announce the first pick ….

Guard John Wall of Kentucky to Washington.
How long before the Wizards try to dump Gilbert Arenas?
Can they dump Arenas?

2. Philadelphia, Evan Turner, forward, Ohio State.
(Could signal the end for Elton Brand with the 76ers).
3. New Jersey, Derrick Favors, forward, Georgia Tech.
4. Minnesota, Wesley Johnson, forward, Syracuse.
(What’s with Kurt Rambis and these Syracuse dudes? They got Jonny Flynn last year).
5. Sacramento, DeMarcus Cousins, center, Kentucky.
6. Golden State, Ekpe Udoh, forward, Baylor.
7. Detroit, Greg Monroe, forward, Georgetown.
8. Clippers, Al-Farouq Aminu, forward, Wake Forest.
(Jay Bilas says he’s 6-foot-9 with a 7-3 wingspan … tremendous rebounder).
9. Utah, Gordon Hayward, forward, Butler.
10. Indiana, Paul George, guard/forward, Fresno State.
11. New Orleans, Cole Aldrich, center, Kansas.
(Lots and lots of big guys selected so far. Hornets needed a big center).
12. Memphis, Xavier Henry, guard, Kansas.
(Two Jayhawks in a row … His father, Terry, played 10 seasons in the NBA).
13. Toronto, Ed Davis, forward, North Carolina.
14. Houston, Patrick Patterson, forward, Kentucky.
(That’s three Wildcats in the 14 lottery picks).
15. Milwaukee, Larry Sanders, forward, Virginia Commonwealth.
(Another big guy picked. Isn’t this supposed to be a point guard-dominated league?).
16. Minnesota, Luke Babbitt, forward, Nevada.
17. Chicago, Kevin Seraphin, forward, France.
(First international player to be selected. Might stay in Europe next season).
18. Oklahoma City, Eric Bledsoe, guard, Kentucky.
19. Boston, Avery Bradley, guard, Texas.
(Not a point guard, but kinda small at 6-2 for a shooting guard).
20. San Antonio, James Anderson, guard, Oklahoma State.
21. Oklahoma City, Craig Brackins, forward, Iowa State.
22. Portland, Elliot Williams, guard, Memphis.
23. Minnesota, Trevor Booker, center, Clemson.
(First senior selected).
24. Atlanta, Damion James, forward, Texas.
(Second senior picked. Bilas calls him a tough kid. … He can shoot a little bit).
25. Memphis, Dominique Jones, guard, South Florida.
(Bilas says he’s a better player than he is an athlete That’s kinda funny).
26. Oklahoma City, Quincy Pondexter, forward, Washington.
(Father, Roscoe, played in the league and at Long Beach State).
27. New Jersey, Jordan Crawford, guard, Xavier.
28. Memphis, Greivis Vasquez, guard, Maryland.
(This pick was part of the Feb. 1, 2008 deal that sent Pau Gasol to the Lakers).
29. Orlando, Daniel Orton, forward, Kentucky.
(How did the Wildcats not win the NCAA Tournament?)
30. Washington, Lazar Hayward, forward, Marquette.

Trades
–Clippers get the rights to Bledsoe (No. 18) from OKC for a future first-round pick.
–Memphis traded the rights to Jones (No. 25) to Dallas for cash.
–Portland dealt Martell Webster to Minnesota for Ryan Gomes and Babbitt (No. 16).
–Atlanta traded Jones (No. 24) to New Jersey for Crawford (No. 27) and Tibor Pleiss (No. 31) and then traded Pleiss to OKC for cash.
–OKC traded the rights to Brackins (No. 21) and Pondexter (No. 26) to New Orleans for Morris Peterson and the rights to Aldrich (No. 11).
–Dallas traded traded the draft rights to Solomon Alabi (No. 50) to Toronto for a future second pick and financial considerations.

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Jackson leaning toward retiring

Phil Jackson said today he told several players, “I’m leaning toward retirement.” He plans to make a final decision in a few days, after he talks with his doctor. If he decides to call it a career, ex-Lakers guard Byron Scott could be a possible replacement. Jackson also said, “I can’t said I would never coach again.” He said he couldn’t make any retirement plans. “I haven’t got that planned out,” he said. “Write a book, go on a grand lecture tour. … I haven’t got those things figured out. … I think I have some things to lend to this game.”

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Surgery possible for Kobe

Kobe Bryant said today he might undergo surgery on his damaged right index finger. First, he planned to travel to South Africa to attend soccer’s World Cup. Then, he’ll meet with the Lakers’ medical staff to discuss a course of action on his finger. He said his sore right knee didn’t bother him after he had it drained of excess fluid during the Lakers’ opening-round victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder two months ago. He said the finger troubled him the most of all his nagging injuries. He also suffered ankle and back ailments. Bryant left open the possibility of joining Team USA for the World Championships later this summer.

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