Once the word leaked this was a possibility, maybe we should have known this was always coming. We really should have known when it was reported this was getting closer. It turns out, today is that day. If you didn’t read the title of this post and have no clue what I’m talking about, the Lakers will (reportedly) sign Metta World Peace:
Metta World Peace will sign a one-year deal today to return to the Los Angeles Lakers, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) September 24, 2015
As simple as it would seem a deal like this would be, nothing is ever really like that, is it? At his pre-training camp press conference, Mitch Kupchak spoke today about the positive influence he believes Metta can have on the lockerroom, in helping to mentor young players, and in passing down knowledge from his decade-plus career as an impact (and elite) defender. Noting that, while observing him in scrimmages and pick-up game sessions, MWP could still play is also meaningful.
When it’s all said and done and the Lakers provide official comment on the reported signing, I’ve no doubt this is what will be mentioned. Metta has already been working closely with Julius Randle and, if for no other reason, the former can help the latter reach his substantial potential a deal like this makes sense.
Again, though, nothing is really that simple. The Lakers, already have several veteran players in place to help aid in the development of their young players. They are also facing a bit of a crunch on the back-end of the roster, looking for the most productive players they can have in spots 12 through 15. A rebuilding team like the Lakers needs all the talent they can get and Kupchak even noted he would be open to waiving a player on a guaranteed contract if it meant keeping a player on a non-guaranteed deal who was outplaying him.
Where Ron fits into this equation, then, is a question with a murky answer. Leadership and mentoring and the ability to be a spot player is valuable. When you have a team of young, impressionable players who are looking to take positive steps forward, the influence strong veterans can have on their careers can be meaningful. The flip side is whether that value exceeds that of what a young player who has his entire career in front of him has to offer.
There are no good answers here. There are simply too many unknowns to properly gauge the total impact one way or another. It’s also key to note, of course, that Metta has not even made the team yet (though, if I was to guess, I’d say he probably does). We also don’t yet even know the terms of his reported 1-year deal.
One thing we do know, though, is that Metta is a Laker again. Like several other players battling for a roster spot, he will get the chance to prove his worth in training camp, competing against the guys who want the same job he does. We also know competition has seemed to bring the fire out of MWP as much as anything else. And for that, if no other reason, I am anxious to see how this goes.
For however long, then, welcome back Ron. Ron? RON.