Lakers Off-Season Expectations for Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace
Metta World Peace:
What is there left to say about Metta World Peace? After a disappointing 2010-2011 season, expectations for World Peace dropped. When new head coach Mike Brown assigned World Peace to a new role, coming off the bench to hopefully help fill the void that Lamar Odom’s December departure left, most thought that the new assignment made sense and might boost World Peace’s confidence and overall performance.
Well, the season started out much better for Metta and his new role as bench leader. However, this was short-lived and his contributions and presence seemed to fade on the court quite rapidly.
MWP’s January and February splits likely constitute the worst numbers of his professional career, and on the heels of a 2011 campaign far below his standards. (I mean, 27.5 percent from the field in January? Not from Downtown. The field!) MWP has never been automatic at the line, but 61.7 percent on the regular season is just inexcusable.”
Now we know that Metta suffered from a constant back injury, which affected the nerves in his back during the majority of the regular season. After months of treatment with athletic trainer Gary Vitti, Metta’s physical health improved and the result of this was evident on the court. His leadership and performance drastically improved when Kobe was sidelined due to a shin injury in April. During that time, Metta averaged more than 16 points per game. Metta appeared as if he was back to the form that he was in when he joined the Lakers in 2009.
More than anything, dollars will dictate MWP’s future in purple and gold. The Lakers are in cost-cutting mode, and Metta’s contract isn’t one easily shed for relief. Thus, he could be an amnesty provision candidate, should the front office opt to use it. Basketball-wise, MWP proved his worth, even in slow burn fashion. Plus, with Ebanks unproven, Christian Eyenga’s credentials making Ebanks look like LeBron James, Barnes no lock to return and the Lakers low on ways to add quality pieces, MWP could even be viewed as a necessity.
However, when money matters, roundball doesn’t always break every tie. MWP is due $15 million over the next two seasons and that’s pricey for a near-33-year-old (next November) who’s been suspended in consecutive postseasons. If the Lakers can somehow find a reasonably priced and credible alternative, MWP might be on the outside looking in.”
Of course, Metta certainly has much to improve upon and doing so will be a challenge due to his age. Metta needs to improve his outside shot, which was an area of major struggle throughout the season. Metta’s health seemed to turn his game around in April and he became more confident driving the ball to the basket and setting up in the post. World Peace remains a solid defender and a great intimidator on defense, especially against high-profile opponents like LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
However, as Kamenetzky pointed out, Metta’s future with the Lakers will most likely come down to a numbers game. Not stat numbers, which Laker fans know Metta isn’t a fan of, but financial numbers that are in accordance with the new restrictions of the collective bargaining agreement. Metta isn’t letting this distract him during the off-season as he is filming a Liftetime movie with Jennie Garth. Classic Metta World Peace.
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