The latest buzz in Laker Land is the signing of Metta World Peace to a one-year, non-guaranteed, $1.5 million contract. Even though the deal gives the Lakers the right to send him packing at any time, MWP is expected to make the team as a backup small forward.
However, this is a move that makes no sense whatsoever.
Okay, so he apparently played well in several casual scrimmages in the past few weeks. Even so, it should be remembered how inept his play was when he last appeared in the NBA — part of the 2013-14 season with New York. The Knicks cut MWP because his lateral movement was so diminished that his vaunted defensive prowess was nothing more than a fond memory.
If he was too slow-to-go at age 33, what’s happened in the intervening two years to put wings on his sneakers? At 6-7, 260 pounds, Peace might be able to player quasi-acceptable defense in limited minutes against smallish, slow-footed power forwards — but there’s no way he could keep up with any of the nimble, fleet-footed small forwards who populate the league.
The Lakers have also claimed that MWP will be an on- and off-court extension of Byron Scott.
The same dude who once showed up for an NBA game wearing nothing but his underpants?
Moreover, Peace was the guy who celebrated winning his first and only NBA championship by unilaterally sabotaging LA’s chances to repeat in 2011. Having finally won a coveted ring, MWP spent the ensuing season playing with an unapologetic selfishness. Indeed, his me-first, immature game plan flatlined the Triangle and encouraged several of his young teammates (most notably Andrew Bynum) to follow suit.
The result was the shameful behavior of Bynum and Lamar Odom at the end of a 36-point loss to Dallas that completed LA’s being swept in the conference semifinals.
It was mainly because of MWP that the 2010-2011 team was the only ball club that Phil Jackson was unable to influence in a positive fashion. What a shame, also, that that infamous, humiliating game was the way in which the career of the greatest coach in NBA history had to end.
Perhaps Metta World Peace’s disruptive ways-and-days made an astounding transformation while he played in China and Italy. Or maybe he’s so desperate to be back in The League, and is such a good actor, that he’s (thus far) been successful in convincing the Lakers brain trust (and himself?) that he’s now a seasoned, mature individual who can help the team’s youngsters to be better players and better people?
There’s also the possibility that in his heart-of-hearts, MWP is hoping for a juicy book or a movie deal. Or a TV talk show of his own?
Since Tinsel Town contains more pie-in-the-sky dreamers than any other place in America, maybe the dreams of Jimmy Buss, Mitch Kupchak, Byron Scott, MWP and thousands of die-hard Lakers fans will come to pass.
Meanwhile, I expect Kobe Bryant to have nothing but public praise for the move, and he probably was asked (begged?) for his approval. For sure, the added sideshow will take some attention away from Kobe’s attempt to regain his All-Star status. At the probable cost, however, of making the Lakers a traveling circus.
Well, all I can say is that I wish a happy ending to this latest Hollywood extravaganza. At the very least, it’s sure to be boffo at the box office.,