Metta World Peace is content to stay with Lakers for rest of career
CHICAGO — At least one person is excited about his future with the Lakers.
Metta World Peace could become a free agent in July by declining a player option for $7.7 million next season. He doesn’t plan on it.
“I want to stay here the rest of my career,” he said, and “get past this adversity. I want to finish as a Laker.”
The adversity would be the team’s 17-24 record after a 95-83 loss Monday against Chicago.
It makes sense that World Peace, 33, wants to stay. He’s almost surely not going to get more than that as a free agent next season.
But whether he finishes his career with the Lakers might not be up to him.
The team could use its one-time amnesty provision on World Peace this summer after he exercised his player option. Or the Lakers could use it to waive Pau Gasol, saving more than $25 million in luxury taxes.
Less likely, they can use it on Steve Blake, who makes the relatively low sum of $4 million next season. There’s even less of a chance they would use it on Kobe Bryant, which would be a public-relations nightmare for the franchise that owes him $30.5 million next season.
Those are the only four players still on the Lakers’ roster when the amnesty provision was granted to teams after the 2010-11 season as a way to limit luxury-tax penalties. Teams still have to pay a player’s salary if they waive him.
At any rate, World Peace also put in a plug for his play in the offensive end.
After dipping to a career-low average of 7.7 points last season, World Peace bounced up to 13.5 this season.
He had 12 against Chicago on four-for-11 shooting.
“Some people forget what type of player I am. I could be averaging 20-plus points, to tell you the truth, you know?” he said. “Coach [Mike] Brown really wanted me to just play defense so I wasn’t scoring the ball as much. He wanted me to take on just a defensive mind-set. He said embrace it. So I did.
“It doesn’t help me because these general managers these days, they try to negotiate and look at numbers when they know that you helped them win. They look at numbers at the end of the day.
“When Bernie [Bickerstaff] took over, I started to score a little bit and then it carried over to Coach [Mike] D’Antoni. I can still score the ball. I can still score that rock. I can still shoot.”
Get our high school sports newsletter
Prep Rally is devoted to the SoCal high school sports experience, bringing you scores, stories and a behind-the-scenes look at what makes prep sports so popular.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.