7. Signing Metta World Peace: July, 2009: Shortly after the Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic for the 2009 NBA championship, Trevor Ariza, who played a big role in the Lakers winning the title, left Los Angeles for a bigger payday with the Houston Rockets.
Kupchak didn’t waste a second filling the new void at the small forward position. After Ariza’s departure, the Lakers’ GM signed free agent Metta World Peace. Signing World Peace to replace Ariza was at first a debatable transaction, given World Peace’s sketchy past.
As the 2009-2010 season progressed, World Peace proved his worth. During the postseason that spring, Metta hit a game-winning shot against the Phoenix Suns in a crucial Game 5 between the two teams, and he was arguably the MVP of Game 7 of the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics, scoring 20 points, including a huge three-pointer in the waning moments of the game.
Say what you want about World Peace’s less-than-perfect performances the last two seasons, but had Kupchak not signed the mercurial forward in ’09, the Lakers would likely have one less championship.
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