Without additional draft picks and enough cap relief to fall behind the luxury tax threshold, the Lakers found a silver lining that shipping Steve Blake to the Golden State Warriors for Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks could accomplish something to their backcourt.
Even if the move came at the expense of losing Blake’s locker room leadership, toughness and playmaking, the Lakers would have a better chance to evaluate how Kendall Marshall and Jordan Farmar fit into their future.
Two weeks since that move, the clarity has proven so drastic that Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni conceded after the Lakers’ 132-125 loss Tuesday to the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center that he’ll make a lineup switch.
Farmar’s 20 points on 7 of 12 shooting in 26 minutes against New Orleans represented a steady progression with both his playmaking and aggressiveness after missing a combined 30 games because of a torn left hamstring. Marshall’s zero points on four field goal attempts and 10 assists in 21 minutes marks a puzzling pattern in the past seven games where has gone scoreless in four of them and logged single digits in three of them.
Will Farmar take Marshall’s starting spot?
“He could start. We’ll talk about it,” D’Antoni said. “I like him playing 25-30 minutes whether he starts or not. Then whoever plays well will finish the game. We’ll talk about it and see if he needs to start.”
The Lakers’ point guards remained largely deferential.
“Whatever he asks me to do, I’ll do it,” Farmar said. “I’ve been battling stuff all year. I’m happy to be out there playing. I’m trying to do my best with whatever minutes I’m given.”
“You can only control what you do when you’re in the game,” Marshall said. “When I’m in there, I have to continue to get guys shots and help defensively and help rebound. Whether that’s coming off the bench or starting, that’s up to the coaching staff.”
But it’s been up to the guards’ performance on dictating their playing time.
Farmar played for the entire fourth quarter in four consecutive games. Against Portland, he opened the first seven minutes of the third quarter as the Lakers’ point guard. Farmar also closed the game’s final eight minutes in the same position. That coincided with Farmar posting 12 of his 20 points during that stretch.
“I don’t think too much about if I’m coming off the bench or starting or who I’m playing with,” Farmar said. “I’m just trying to make the best of each opportunity.”
Meanwhile, Marshall has failed to take advantage of his.
After proving to be a pleasant surprise with his outside shooting and passing, Marshall has struggled running the offense ever since the arrival of Bazemore and Brooks. That’s because Marshall’s running fewer pick-and-roll sets and has fewer ball handling duties.
“Guys go through spans where you’re not hitting shots,” Marshall said. “You have to find ways to keep helping your team. I try to keep getting guys involved. You’re going to miss shots. That’s part of the game. You just have to find ways to continue to help the team. When I’m coming off screens and not hitting shots, I have to find someone who is. That’s my job as a point guard.”
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