The Los Angeles Lakers have a problem. They pay far too much to their mercurial small forward Metta World Peace.
It's no secret that the Lakers aren't happy with his five-year, $33 million contract, which pays him $7 million this year and next year, but that wasn't always the case.
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, World Peace averaged 17.1 points per game, and he had averaged 16.8 points per game for his career. In Los Angeles that number dropped to 9.1 points per game with an abysmal 7.7 points per game in 2012.
In his 15 seasons, he has only shot under 40 percent three times; 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.
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.
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