When you're a team like the Lakers that has talented players at least 10 spots deep on the roster, there's a predictable problem that's bound to come up, no matter how many games you're winning. That's the issue of keeping all of your players happy, and getting them all enough minutes and enough shots to keep them engaged mentally in the long term goal that the club is trying to accomplish.
We've already heard complaints about playing time from Lamar Odom, Sasha Vujacic, and Vladimir Radmanovic. There's now a fourth Laker that we can add to the list, and that's Jordan Farmar. Farmar was visibly displeased with being subbed out early in the fourth quarter of the Lakers' win over the Knicks, exchanging words with his coach as he headed to the bench. The following day, Farmar went to Phil Jackson's office to vent and seek some clarity in what his coach is expecting from him on the court.
"I asked them what they wanted me to do so I can go out there and do it and not be confused about my job," Farmar said. "They're not looking for me to do anything personal -- just run our offense. It affects my performance and what I do.
"I was trying to go out there and do what I was told. Every time I would do what they asked me to do, it seemed like it was the wrong thing at that time, the wrong choice. I'm just trying to figure it out and do what they ask me in any capacity, whatever it is," Farmar said.
"I want to have decision-making opportunities, but if that's not in their plans right now, I can't let what I want go over what the team wants. I love these guys and we have a chance to be special, and I'll sacrifice as much as I have to for us to win."
The third quote there is the one that shows that deep down, Farmar has the right attitude about fitting in and doing what's best for the team. But the fact that he feels stifled by the team concept, and that it's one he feels doesn't allow him to make his own decisions on the court, is something that could lead to him being more tentative, especially in late-game situations.
It's likely that this won't be a lingering problem, just as it wasn't for any of the other three players who similarly vented about their roles with the team. And remember, things can change very quickly in Phil's rotation: it wasn't too long ago that Jordan was mocking teammate Luke Walton's lack of playing time, and now Walton finds himself playing over 20 minutes a night as a member of the starting unit.