As free agency has come and gone, and training camp begins to approach, the Los Angeles Lakers have begun filling their roster with young players on partially guaranteed contracts. These deals basically amount to training camp deals and the team has already signed small forward Jonathan Holmes and guard Michael Frazier II. Center Robert Upshaw also remains a possibility for the Lakers, thought there are no immediate plans to sign the former Washington Husky.
This week, however, a familiar name popped up in regards to the Lakers in small forward Metta World Peace. World Peace is far from an undrafted rookie like Holmes, Frazier, and Upshaw as he was a vital part of the Lakers 2010 championship team. He hit the game winner in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals and his late three in Game 7 of the NBA Finals basically sealed the title.
World Peace is far removed from those years now, however. He turns 36 in November and spent last year playing in China and Italy. The impact that he can make on an NBA team at this stage of his career is questionable as he is no longer the lockdown defender he was during his prime.
One thing he is, however, is a veteran and he does have championship experience. He has been working out with Julius Randle at times during the off-season, and the Lakers could use his toughness, and knowledge on defense as he could impart some wisdom on the younger players.
So we asked our panel of experts if signing Metta World Peace would be a good move for the Los Angeles Lakers. This is what they had to say:
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): Let’s face it, the Lakers aren’t winning an NBA title anytime soon. It seems highly unlikely the team will even compete for a playoff spot next season. That being said, I believe signing Metta World Peace isn’t a bad idea. In fact, I think bringing in a veteran like World Peace would be a good move for many different reasons.
Perhaps the main reason this would be a step in the right direction is World Peace’s working with the young players like Julius Randle. World Peace makes players step up their game with his physical style and get-in-your-face mentality. Kobe Bryant even praised World Peace for making practices a kind of battle atmosphere, making things that much more competitive during the 2010 championship run and the seasons that followed.
World Peace’s energy, work ethic and knowledge of the game is bound to rub off on the rest of the team. If the Lakers are all in on developing players at this point in time, bring in a guy that can help with that process.
It’s not like signing Metta is going to prevent the Lakers from bringing in a top-tier talent or a player that will be key to the team’s long-term success. I don’t see much of a downside of signing World Peace.
Trevor Lane (@16RingsNBA): I like Metta World Peace, like him a lot. He’s a character, and he reminds fans of better days, like his unforgettable championship post-game presser in 2010. He’s also a Byron Scott kind of guy, one who takes pride in playing stingy, no-nonsense defense, and he happens to play a position that the Lakers could use some help at.
However, as tough as it is to say, signing MWP is not a good idea. For one thing, at nearly 36 years old he simply isn’t the player that he once was. He was already on the downswing when the Lakers signed him during the summer of 2009, and LA fans have spent the last few years commiserating with Kobe as we all learned the painful truth that there is simply no defeating Father Time.
It’s true that the Lakers need help on the wing, where they currently only have converted shooting guards Bryant and Nick Young along with rookie Anthony Brown. Unfortunately MWP isn’t the answer to that problem though, as his slow foot speed combined with his physical strength suggests he would have to be considered more of a small-ball power forward in the modern NBA. With the Lakers already employing Julius Randle, Brandon Bass, Ryan Kelly, and Larry Nance Jr. at the four spot it would appear that there isn’t enough room in the lineup for Metta.
Similarly, using a roster spot on him would mean that a young player like Jabari Brown, Robert Upshaw, Jonathan Holmes, or Michael Frazier would get bumped, which robs the Lakers of the opportunity to strike gold in the form of an overlooked youngster.
I would, however, be in favor of bringing MWP in as a special assistant. While he may not be ready to admit that his playing days are over, for the Lakers adding World Peace as a tutor for their neophytes without sacrificing a valuable roster spot or minutes would be an ideal situation. In particular players like Anthony Brown and Julius Randle would benefit from learning MWP’s defensive brilliance, but would the player formerly known as Ron Artest accept such a role as a compromise? Lakers fans should hope the answer is yes.
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH): While I definitely see a few positives in bringing in Metta World Peace, in the end the negatives outweigh the positives of this move.
The biggest concern I have with World Peace is that I don’t think he can play small forward regularly anymore. I see his best position being a small-ball power forward and Julius Randle and Brandon Bass will be seeing the majority of the minutes at that position and Larry Nance Jr. will be developing at that spot as well.
His toughness would be very welcomed, but he isn’t the defensive stopper he once was. Sure he could spend a few minutes on the bigger small forwards such as Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James, but most players would run him around the court through screens and World Peace would likely not be able to keep up anymore. Not to mention he isn’t exactly a floor spacer on offense either. His game just doesn’t translate well to this era of NBA basketball.
I love that he is working out with Julius Randle and believe he has much to offer him as well as guys like Anthony Brown, Larry Nance Jr., and even Jonathan Holmes or Michael Frazier II if either were to make the team. Taking up a roster spot just isn’t the best idea in my opinion.