Metta World Peace needs to understand flimsy job security
The Lakers might feel the same way about another form of World Peace, this one the goofy 6-foot-7 Lakers forward who flexes his biceps, makes the Staples Center crowd gasp every time he shoots and goes by the first name Metta.
The Times' Mike Bresnahan has reported that the Lakers might waive the player formerly known as Ron Artest via the league's amnesty clause. Such a move could prove somewhat risky considering that Artest's defense remains strong and waiving World Peace would make it necessary for the Lakers acquire a defensive stalwart to replace him. But the thought process makes sense for basketball and monetary reasons.
World Peace averaged a career-low 8.5 points last season and appears, at 32, to be on the decline in maintaining the lateral movement and quickness that have made him a top defender. By shedding World Peace's three-year, $21.5-million contract, Bresnahan estimated that the Lakers could save as much as $27 millon in salary and taxes in 2013-14 under the new rules, should the Lakers remain between $10 million and $15 million over the tax threshold. That would prove more beneficial than even cutting forward Luke Walton (two years, $11.46 million).
That's why it's important World Peace understands and embraces the need to temper his antics, ranging from his Twitter rants to his on-court goofiness and his name himself. Some of it proves to be no more than harmless fun. Most of the criticism about his apparent distractions also miss the point since his struggles last season pointed more to his declining abilities. But he's no longer entering a season with the nostalgia from his Game 7 heroics of the 2010 NBA Finals prompting the Lakers to tolerate his behavior. World Peace is entering a season in which the Lakers face plenty of uncertainty, including a new head coach and an aging roster, and many of his actions will be scrutinized.
For the Lakers to embrace World Peace, he will have to play a diplomatic hand. He can't become defensive about it in his comments. He will have to be defensive about it on the court. He can't lament the Lakers not appreciating his work ethic. He will have to show off that motor during games. He can't blame his poor offense on the triangle offense. The Lakers aren't running that anymore.
Frankly, World Peace needs to play as though he is fighting to keep his job. It's the only way he will save it, and it's the only way the Lakers will embrace World Peace.
-- Mark Medina
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