Kobe Bryant and longtime Lakers trainer Gary Vitti will retire next month. Metta World Peace isn't ready to join them.
"I still want to get in the playoffs again. I want to do a couple more years," the Lakers forward said Tuesday. "This year I didn't play much so I kind of saved myself. I'm going to come back next year strong."
World Peace, 36, is averaging 4.3 points in only 22 games. His one-year contract expires after this season.
He likes the way he feels, finds hope in certain box scores.
He had 14 points against Miami, one of only three starts for him this season. He had 12 points against Phoenix, another start. He particularly liked his game at Cleveland last month.
"I had no points but was plus-10. That was encouraging. I played well against LeBron James," he said.
The season hasn't been fun for World Peace, or the Lakers, but you'd never know it by talking to him.
The lack of quality minutes? No problem.
The time he sat out 22 of 23 games, healthy but just not playing? OK.
The young kids stealing his time? Thumbs up.
In a very real sense, World Peace is happy to be here, signed by the Lakers a few days before training camp after a one-year absence from the NBA.
"The games that I started, I played well. I wanted to see if I could still compete," he said. "When I was getting my minutes, I was still able to compete.
"Then the young guys started playing and they started playing well. Now they're establishing themselves so that was smart on the Lakers' part."
He likes Jordan Clarkson's consistency, enjoys D'Angelo Russell's recent scoring run. He's not ready to call them All-Stars, straddling the line of caution and optimism.
"Next year we'll see how hard they work," he said. "It's been good seeing the young guys get better. That's been one of my goals."
Clarkson is the reserved one, Russell the comedic one.
They're friends and they form the Lakers' backcourt of the future even though they don't share similar personalities.
"Those two guys are totally different in that aspect," Coach Byron Scott said. "But I think both can be effective."
Russell often clowns around with reporters, jokingly asking one if he had been fired after recently spending some time away from the team.
Clarkson is more measured in his approach. He'd take sound play over sound bites any day.
Scott has noticed some mild differences lately in Clarkson when Bryant doesn't play because of a sore shoulder.
"Jordan has been a little more vocal," Scott said. "But Jordan is also one of those guys that leads by example. He does all the stuff that you want a guy to do. He's at practice early, he gets extra work in. He's real serious about trying to be the best that he can be."