Metta World Peace, Mike Brown both at fault for dustup
Exiting the players' lounge, Metta World Peace stood before a mirror, kissed his biceps and then quickly walked out of the locker room.
He then followed a shooting routine before the Lakers-Hawks game Tuesday night at Staples Center, consisting of post-ups, elbow jumpers and three-point attempts. World Peace had made 11 of his first 15 attempts, prompting a nearby fan to shout, "Keep it going, baby. Let's go."
After talking with Coach Mike Brown during morning shootaround Tuesday over frustrations regarding his role, World Peace contended he only wants to help the team win. But his comments during training camp envisioning his bench role perfectly mirrored his pregame routine in which he made every shot with ease and observers continuously encouraged him to shoot.
"When Kobe [Bryant], Pau [Gasol] and [Andrew] Bynum are out, you still have to double-team me," World Peace said during training camp. "You can't leave me open. At all times on the floor, there will be a threat."
Brown then placed his arm around him.
"If that second unit isn't rolling, whose fault is it?" Brown asked.
Said World Peace: "My fault."
Said Brown: "It's on you."
Both bore smiles and exchanged laughs at the time, but there was only one problem. Neither vision that World Peace and Brown outlined seemed remotely realistic. World Peace may see more opportunities on offense as a reserve, but he has also struggled to score. Brown may have pitched the leadership role to sell World Peace on a demotion, but it remained highly implausible the Lakers' goofball could actually fit that description.
Brown may have changed his plans since then by inserting World Peace in the starting lineup, but it shouldn't be surprising that he lamented his frustrations this past weekend to the media about his role.
World Peace's criticism to CBS Sports' Ken Berger about Brown just being a "stats guy" is hardly warranted. It just reveals World Peace's delusional view toward his career-low 4.9 points on 33.8% shooting and slower reactions on defense. But World Peace's frustration with a fluctuating rotation at small forward perfectly reveals Brown's overreaction toward reducing his minutes and elevating him into a starter's role.
Granted, Brown's options at small forward hardly look promising. Matt Barnes negates his efficient cutting and energy with ill-advised three-pointers and overly aggressive fouls. Devin Ebank undercuts his athleticism and work ethic with a lack of confidence and consistency. But it's clear that Brown also has mishandled using bad parts.
For World Peace, that involved several things.
Brown encouraged him to shoot outside shots even when many of them remained forced. He hardly used World Peace in the post, despite Synergy Sports Technology listing World Peace ranking higher in post-ups (69th) than in isolation sets (125th) or spot-up shots (252).
Brown immediately elevated World Peace into the starting lineup just because of one quality showing in the Lakers 96-91 victory over the Clippers, where World Peace scored a late-game three-pointer, fought for looseballs and played lockdown defense.
Yet, World Peace deserves criticism for offering Brown nothing more than damaged goods.
He arrived to training camp out of shape. Even with increasing frustration over last season's inconsistency, World Peace found it amusing to cite the never-ending lockout as an excuse to stop training.
World Peace paints himself as a player overly eager to provide all the intangibles. But his quick trigger revealed his stronger interest in shooting even when those shots only elicits gasps among fans at Staples Center. His claim that higher minutes will entail stronger performances don't work since his playing time predicates on his initial effectiveness.
World Peace once joked his defense dropped off simply because he remained "bored" with the responsibility. But his defensive stats show he's remained average. Synergy ranks him high in all man-to-man defensive situations except when he defends the pick-and-roll ball handler (46.4%) and when he defends in isolation (40%).
Brown and World Peace currently view these issues behind them. After posting 10 points on four-of-seven shooting in the Lakers' 86-78 victory Tuesday over Atlanta, World Peace joked about switching from high tops to low tops sparked a turnaround. Brown boasted that World Peace's three-pointer to close the first half and two dunks will crack the SportsCenter highlights.
But for all the reasons listed above, this issue could remain prevalent throughout the season. Unfortunately for the Lakers, both Brown and World Peace have both each other and themselves to blame.
- -Mark Medina
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Photo: Metta World Peace is frustrated but he is also partly to blame. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press