Metta World Peace is showing Lakers he was worth keeping
Right about now, the Lakers are glad they didn’t use their amnesty provision to cut Metta World Peace last December.
It was discussed by the front office, as were other players’ names, but the Lakers holstered their ability to waive one player without paying luxury taxes on his salary.
Turned out to be a good move. Or non-move.
World Peace has been a catalyst the last six games, averaging 18 points and shooting 58%.
Lakers fans used to groan whenever he hoisted a three-point attempt. Now they celebrate whenever he blows kisses to the crowd.
World Peace didn’t shoot well Sunday against Dallas, making only seven of 20 shots, but he had 18 points and made an 18-foot fadeaway with 1 minute 9 seconds left in overtime of the Lakers’ 112-108 victory.
World Peace, 32, has two more years and $15 million left on his contract. The Lakers could still use their amnesty provision on him before next season.
For now, though, they’re happy to have each other.
“When I first got here, this is the Metta that I thought we would have,” Lakers Coach Mike Brown said.
World Peace was out of shape when he reported to training camp and was relegated to reserve status for 19 games before becoming a starter again.
“It took a long time to get to this point,” World Peace said. “Even right now I’m not 100% and I feel very dominant now.”
Said Brown: “He looks really, really good.”
Matt Barnes continued to be a consistent source of scoring for the Lakers’ reserves, perhaps the only one.
He averaged 14.3 points in his last four games and had a little of everything Sunday against Dallas — 11 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
“He’s a factor on both ends of the floor now. He reminds me sort of a guy like Bruce Bowen, a guy that can guard a lot of different positions,” Brown said. “He’s going to come up with 50-50 balls. He’s going to rebound.”
Barnes, 32, is in the last year of a contract paying him $1.9 million this season.
Andrew Bynum didn’t shoot well against Dallas, making only nine of 24 attempts, but the fact he played was noteworthy.
“He was not feeling well,” Brown said, highlighting a conversation held with longtime Lakers trainer Gary Vitti. “Before the game I told Gary, ‘Why don’t we hold him out?’
“He was coughing and hacking and all this stuff. Gary was like, ‘No, no. He wants to play.’ ”
Bynum had 23 points and 16 rebounds.
“It was just hard to breathe,” Bynum said. “I was tired.”
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