The Los Angeles Lakers ended their four-year partnership with small forward Metta World Peace on Thursday night via the NBA’s amnesty clause, and now the 33-year-old is now up for grabs.
The amnesty provision, which was recently added to the newest collective bargaining agreement, allows a team to waive a player and without taking a salary cap hit. Over the next 48 hours, a team with salary cap room can either completely pick up that waived player’s contract, or make a bid for his services. If no team claims him or makes a bid, the player is free agent.
They still have to pay the rest of his $7.7 million salary this year, but the move saved the Lakers $15 million under the new luxury tax system. Teams with cap room can opt to make a full waiver claim and pick up the one year and $7.7 million left on his contract, or make a partial claim and offer a lower bid. Typically, the team with the highest bid wins out, but if there happens to be a tie the CBA stipulates that the team with the worst record wins.
As many as 11 teams under the cap can claim World Peace, according to the New York Post, including Atlanta, Charlotte, Detroit, Dallas, Philadelphia, Sacramento, Orlando, Utah, and Phoenix. Last season World Peace netted 12.4 points and five rebounds a game, production that could help any of the aforementioned struggling teams.
However, it was reported earlier this week that World Peace wants to end his career in New York with the Knicks. Head coach Mike Woodson said the Knicks are interested, but they would need World Peace to slide by each of those clubs and hit free agency. According to the Post, the Knicks could then sign him to a veteran’s minimum deal for $1.4 million, since most of the cap is tied in Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony's contracts.
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But the Knicks aren’t the only contending club that could use World Peace’s services.
Below are five other teams in need of some help with their current salary cap numbers included via Spotrac.
L.A. Clippers $64.4 million
This could be a huge get for the Clippers, who were already solid last season on defense. But the addition of World Peace could make them even better. It would also be a slight at the Lakers, who took a rare back seat to the rising Clippers last season.
Currently, the only small forward on the Clippers roster is Matt Barnes, who could easily split minutes with World Peace.
Oklahoma City Thunder $67.7 million
He would have to take a big pay cut, but the Thunder are routinely named the heir apparent in the West with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook still outside of their prime years.
World Peace gives them a proven playoff contributor, and a veteran voice. He hasn’t been known for his leadership in the past, but given the extra responsibility, World Peace might flourish.
Memphis Grizzlies $62.5 million
A solid defense-minded club would only get stronger. The Grizzlies allowed the fewest points per game and opponents only managed to shoot 43.5 percent from the field.
They do have the cap space, but the Grizzlies also have several players at small forward including Tayshaun Prince and Quincy Pondexter. World Peace may be relegated to the bench.
Houston Rockets $60.2 million
Another huge slap in the face to the Lakers. Houston could technically bring in World Peace to play alongside the recently signed Dwight Howard.
We know Howard didn’t like playing with Kobe Bryant or in Mike D’Antoni’s offense, but there hasn’t been any reported issue with World Peace. His presence would make up for any shortcomings from current starting small forward Chandler Parsons, and gives Houston another shooter.
The Rockets are one team that could afford to fully pick up the rest of World Peace’s contract, and have some room left over. They could even count it as an expiring contract, and have some extra room left next summer. World Peace played for Houston in the 2009-2009 season.
Indiana Pacers, $51.1 million
Yes, it’s a complete long shot. World Peace was the main reason the Pacers completely rebooted their team and image to fans thanks to the “Malice at the Palace” incident in 2004.
But newly returned team president Larry Bird said the lack of a bench was his top priority, and World Peace could certainly provide some depth. The team has more than enough cap space to outright pick him up, and even a low bid in the $3 million range won’t leave them cap strapped.
Again, it’s a huge long shot. But the Pacers are a young team that need veterans, and based off his most recent behavior and charity work World Peace is far more mature than he was almost a decade ago.
The Pacers are loaded at small forward, but have reportedly been trying to move Danny Granger for quite some time. Gerald Green and Solomon Hill aren’t nearly as productive as World Peace, despite their youth. Paul George's job is obviously safe, but a solid backup like World Peace could take some pressure off Indiana's rising star.