Los Angeles Lakers News: Should the Lakers Get Rid of Metta World Peace?

  on July 11 2012 11:08 AM
Metta World Peace (formerly Ron Artest)
REUTERS

Metta World Peace's time with the Los Angeles Lakers may be drawing to a close.

It's no secret that the Lakers are no longer happy with the five-year, $33 million contract he signed in 2009, which pays him $7 million this year and next year.

When Los Angeles signed him, Ron Artest looked like a great deal. He gave the Lakers a formidable defensive presence, and it kept other Western Conference teams from signing him as a Kobe stopper as the Sacramento Kings and Houston Rockets had done from 2005 to 2009.

In his final year in Houston, Artest averaged 17.1 points per game, and he had averaged 16.8 points per game for his career. In Los Angeles, World Peace's averages dropped to 9.1 points per game with an abysmal 7.7 points per game in 2012.

World Peace and Lakers coach Mike Brown have not seen eye to eye since Brown took over in 2011. World Peace saw his minutes cut to 26.9 per game and he was removed from the Lakers starting lineup at points last season.

In his 15 seasons, he has only shot under 40 percent three times; but two of those were the past two seasons with the Lakers. Even on defense his contributions were limited, and he is now eight years removed from his NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.

Points, rebounds, shooting, free throws, defense, there is not a single part of World Peace's game that has not regressed during his time in Los Angeles, and he continues to make starter money.

But what can the Lakers do about it? Few teams are going to want World Peace's $7 million per year contract at his current level of production, at least not without the Lakers adding another asset.

He could make for a nice throw-in to a potential deal for someone like Dwight Howard, or another similarly highly paid player, as the Lakers try to make the contracts match.

Their other option would be the amnesty clause. According to the new CBA, each team is allowed to remove one player from their salary cap rolls between now and the 2016 season. The idea was to allow teams that had committed money to bad contracts to get out from under them.

World Peace is now a prime example of a bad contract, and the Lakers need to get out from under it to afford themselves flexibility they need to take advantage of Kobe Bryant's final prime years.

Their final option, and probably their best option is to hold onto him. Amnesty will get them out from under World Peace's contract, but it doesn't get them under the cap, which severely limits their ability to replace him.

It probably makes more sense to keep him, at least for this year. World Peace's contract makes him a very attractive piece in trade talks, just not until next season.

His $7 million expiring deal would be very attractive to teams that will be looking to unload high priced free agents next season. While Los Angeles might be hurt slightly in the short run by keeping him, it will pay off in the long run.

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