During this busy holiday season filled with shopping frenzies and never-ending sales, there’s only one gift Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni would like under his Christmas tree.
“Maybe a couple of point guards would be nice,” D’Antoni said, chuckling.
D’Antoni won’t exactly receive his wish. Steve Nash remains out for at least three more weeks because of persisting nerve issues in his back. Steve Blake won’t return for another five weeks because of a hyperextended elbow. There’s also Kobe Bryant, whom the Lakers estimate still has five more weeks before healing his fractured left knee.
But D’Antoni received a nice stocking stuffer in the form of Jordan Farmar, whose ultrasound on Tuesday showed his left hamstring fully healed and provided medical clearance to suit up when the Lakers play Christmas Day against the Miami Heat at Staples Center.
“We need to get some playmaking back there,” D’Antoni said.
They sure do.
For the past seven games, the Lakers have played without a traditional point guard. They first assigned the duties to a previously healthy Bryant. Following his injury, the Lakers split those responsibilities to Xavier Henry, Jodie Meeks and Nick Young, all whom never played the position during their NBA careers.
“I just noticed without somebody taking control, there was no sense of purpose,” Farmar said. “There was just random basketball they were playing.”
Farmar’s return should provide stability after averaging a dependable dependable 9.2 points and 4.4 assists in 18.9 minutes per game.
“We’re doing things they’re not comfortable doing. That wears on you,” D’Antoni said. “There will be some nights where they’re not very good at it. This will help get everyone’s minutes back and get them back in the right positions and take the ball handling duties off some people. Everybody will be naturally back and it should be good.”
But how much will that actually make a difference against the defending champion Miami Heat?
Hard to say considering the Lakers still need to find a way to limit LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Though Farmar played recent games of three-on-three, D’Antoni also said he’s going to adopt a unique approach with Farmar’s playing time to offset any conditioning issues after missing the past 10 games.
“We’re thinking in order not to get him tired, it might be short bursts,” D’Antoni said. “Five minutes here, five minute rest.”
How will that work out?
“I understand the philosophy behind it. They don’t want me to get tired,” Farmar said. “They don’t want my legs to be fatigued. It’s hard at the end of the game. Just play through it. Hopefully it won’t be too big of a problem. We’ll have a dialogue in how I feel and we’ll go from there.”
That uncertainty sure beats the feeling Farmar had in the past week.
He had hoped to return as early as last Friday when the Lakers hosted the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center. But an ultrasound last week revealed that his hamstring hadn’t fully healed. He conceded still needing to go through what he called “maintenance stuff,” involving exercises on his hips and gluteus muscles to prevent his hamstring from tightening.
“Feeling good and being told to sit back and not do anything because it’s dangerous,” Farmar said as the most difficult part of the rehab. I don’t want to go backwards. But not being able to feel my injury every day while I was progressing and ramping it up every day.”
“I was nervous going in because I thought they’d tell me it’s another week. But I was happy when he gave me the good news and told me it was all good to go.”
And as a result, Farmar will get his first start of the season, a huge role he had envisioned when rejoining the Lakers this past season though he’s hardly thrilled with the circumstances.
“I wish that on nobody. I’m excited. I’m happy,” Farmar said. “This is the reason I came home to be here and play a valuable part of this team. Right now I feel that. I feel wanted and needed from my coaching staff and teammates. It’s a good feeling. I worked really hard to get here. Hopefully I can continue to grow.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org