UPDATE: Did we jump the gun a bit with our post below? Possibly. Maybe. We’ll see.
The Lakers can’t officially use their amnesty provision until July 10th (with the window to use it closing on July 16th). Kevin Ding acknowledged in his tweet that the Lakers could still change their mind and other reporters (most notably Ramona Shelburne) have noted that they have not yet confirmed the team will amnesty Ron.
Meanwhile, Kobe has weighed in on twitter with an opinion on possibly cutting ties with Ron:
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) July 9, 2013
Whether this is Kobe applying some public pressure or just speaking his opinion is open to interpretation. In the tweet before the one above, Kobe wished Ron well and acknowledged that he was a “casualty of the new CBA”. So, maybe Kobe was just speaking off the cuff when stating what he would do. We’ll see what the Lakers will decide in the next week.
Looks like the only Lakers’ news of the day isn’t the signing of free agent Chris Kaman. With the announcement that the team will be saying hello to a new player, they are likely on the verge of saying goodbye to another.
Per Kevin Ding, the Lakers plan to use the amnesty provision on Metta World Peace:
Sweet a guy as he is, @MettaWorldPeace will be waived via amnesty by Lakers to save about $30 million, barring some late change.
— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) July 8, 2013
The move is purely a cost cutting one, saving the Lakers
nearly $30 million $21.5 million (per Eric Pincus) in luxury tax payments for the upcoming season. With the escalated tax system kicking in for next year, the Lakers will be hit hard for their high payroll and, as we’ve mentioned before, Ron was the most likely candidate to get cut using this one time tool to remove salary off the team’s cap.
While this move makes sense financially, and, to a certain extent on the floor considering slippage in Ron’s game on both sides of the floor, it’s also a tough pill to swallow when zooming in on the state of the roster right now. While I anticipated Ron playing more small ball PF next year, he was the only viable SF on the roster and with the Lakers already likely to use their mini-mid level on Kaman, the team only has minimum salaried contracts to offer any replacements on the wing. Even with Ron in decline, it’s tough to envision a player coming in and providing what he did on both ends of the floor for such a paltry price tag.
I, for one, will miss him. Ron always played with an intensity and competitive fire that was distinct. And while playing on the edge in the way that he did would sometimes lead to him crossing the line between fair and foul, his determination and desire to give his all on the floor was something that many don’t always provide. When you combine his temperament with some of his big game performances, Ron will live on in Lakers’ lore for a lifetime.
I mean, I will never forget his put-back against the Suns in the 2010 Western Conference Finals nor the even bigger performance — and clutch 3 pointer — he provided in game 7 of the NBA Finals. His post game press conference is also the stuff of legend, but that just obscures the fact that without Ron in uniform, it’s unlikely the Lakers defeat their long time foes to claim the title, or even get that far for that matter.
As Ding reports, there’s still a chance, though seemingly slim, that the team changes their mind and keeps Ron on board for next season. But if Ron actually has played his last game in the forum blue and gold uniform of the Lakers, I wish him nothing but the best in wherever he lands. He still has something to give on the floor and whatever team he’s on will surely appreciate the toughness, effort, and heart he plays with. There will be some down moments too, of course, but in the end that’s what you get with Ron. And, crazy as it sounds, I probably wouldn’t have it any other way.