The Lakers sided with a piece of their past Monday, keeping Metta World Peace instead of young guard Jabari Brown as the final player for their 15-man roster.
World Peace, who turns 36 next month, showed he could still play some defense, and earned extra points within the organization for mentoring young forward Julius Randle.
The move did not come as a surprise, even though World Peace did not play in the NBA last season. “It’s harder than what people think,” he said Monday. “It wasn’t easy being a vet and trying to get back in the league.”
“It is a flat emotion because I’m focusing on one thing,” he said. “My goals didn’t change from the first day I signed my non-guaranteed contract. I wanted to come here and try to win a championship. My goals didn’t change, so there’s nothing to feel.”
World Peace will make $1.5 million this season, though his contract does not become fully guaranteed until early January.
“We know how Kobe [Bryant] is when he leads guys. He’s real tough on guys at times,” Lakers Coach Byron Scott said. “I think Metta’s the type of guy that can keep kind of everybody together as well. That did kind of come into play.”
World Peace is the opposite of a gunner. He is an established veteran who can’t quite get up and down the court like he used to, but can still contribute in defense-minded ways.
Scott has advocated for a strong defense since he took the job, though the Lakers had the second-worst scoring defense in his first season.
Brown could end up playing for the Lakers’ Development League team, the Los Angeles D-Fenders, though it wasn’t clear what his immediate future would hold.
The Lakers also chose a more veteran player in their other main roster battle, keeping Robert Sacre instead of unpolished Robert Upshaw last week.
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