Maccabi Tel Aviv received its first dividend of the NBA lockout this week by signing New Jersey Net guard Jordan Farmar to a contract for the duration of the work stoppage.
Not only is the 1.88-meter, 24-year-old Farmar a talented NBA veteran, but as the league's only Jewish-American player, he's eligible to be listed as a naturalized Israeli outside the limited quota of foreign players.
Farmar isn't in the same class of elite NBA players like Net teammate Deron Williams, who will be playing in Turkey, or Dwight Howard, Kobi Bryant and Chris Paul, who have their eyes on the Chinese league. But he certainly has the tools to be an impact player for Maccabi.
Maccabi's newest player is a winner who has been part of successful programs at the highest levels of college and pro basketball.
After being the first Jewish player to appear in the McDonald's all-star high school basketball games (his new teammate Jon Scheyer was the second and only other ), Farmar - a native of Los Angeles - enrolled at UCLA. He was key in beginning the Bruins' resurgence to the heights of NCAA basketball. During his second and final season, he led UCLA to the championship final, which it lost to Florida.
In 2006, Farmar was drafted by Phil Jackson and the Los Angeles Lakers, where he played for four seasons before signing with the Nets last year in the hope of gaining more minutes and a starting role.
The Lakers appeared in the NBA finals during the final three of Farmar's four seasons with the team, which won two titles. Farmar served as the Lakers' backup point guard and was a member of Jackson's shock troops coming off the bench. There is no doubt that a player with this type of experience and four years of tutelage under the most successful coach in NBA history can't make a significant contribution to Maccabi.
Farmar should also be an excellent fit for coach David Blatt's system. Jackson's up-tempo offense and high pressure on ball defense, leading to turnovers and easy transition baskets, is exactly what Blatt asked for and got from Jeremy Pargo and Doron Perkins last season.
The main flaw in Farmar's game is his inconsistent outside shooting, but he should be a big spark for the yellow and blue during his borrowed time in Israel.
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