The Lakers and Metta World Peace may once again become an item. Adrian Wojnarowski broke the story on Monday afternoon:
The Los Angeles Lakers are discussing the possibility of signing free agent forward Metta World Peace to a one-year contract, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
No deal has been agreed upon, but there have been talks between the Lakers and World Peace’s representatives, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
There are varying degrees of interest within the Lakers organization about bringing him back to the franchise at 35 years old, although the idea has been met with enthusiasm from Lakers star Kobe Bryant, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The LA Times’ Brad Turner called the discussions between Metta and the Lakers “casual conversations”, but did add he has been a presence around the team this summer:
World Peace has been working out at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo with Julius Randle the last two months, and the two have played pickup basketball at the Clippers’ practice facility in Playa Vista, an official said.
While these reports clearly state nothing is imminent, this is all very fun to discuss.
When Ron — he’ll always be Ron to me — first arrived to play for the Lakers, I was skeptical about his fit and weary of his reputation as a ball stopping wing who had a tendency to play outside of his role and on the verge of doing something that would compromise his team’s chances to win.
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.
That was two years ago, though. Regarding his current fit, there is a logic that the Lakers are thin at SF, Ron plays SF, and, hence, this is the reason to sign him — or at least explore the option. However, I would argue that Ron is much more of a small-ball PF at this stage of his career. He was already skewing that direction in his final season with the Lakers and, in the limited time he saw in New York, was also moving in that direction for the Knicks.
None of this even speaks to whether he can still play at an NBA level, either. I won’t pretend to know what the answer to that question is. While playing in Italy last year, he posted some decent numbers:
Metta World Peace averaged 13.3 ppg and 4.0 rpg in Italy last season.
— HoopsHype (@hoopshype) August 25, 2015
Metta World Peace made 50% of his spot up jump shots while shooting 48% on post ups & 64% in transition with Cantu in Italy last year.
— Synergy Sports Tech (@SynergySST) August 24, 2015
I don’t know how those numbers would translate to the NBA. What I do know is Ron is still “only” 35 and, considering he has always kept himself in top physical form, is likely to be well conditioned enough to give it another go in the NBA — though likely in a very limited role. Whether that chance should come with the Lakers is a different question, but, based on fit and what he could provide, the answer to that is likely “no”.
Still, it’s fun to discuss on a late August day.