Ron: Mitch, I Wanna Come Back, Teach The Young Guys And Help Y'all Win A NBA Championship
By Dave McMenamin | ESPNLosAngeles.com
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- One day after being waived by the Los Angeles Lakers via the amnesty provision, Metta World Peace said he doesn't want any NBA team to make a bid to pick him up off waivers. Not his hometown New York Knicks or the Brooklyn Nets. And not the Lakers' Staples Center cohabitants, the Los Angeles Clippers.
"I don't really want to play for anybody," World Peace said Friday at the Lakers' practice facility. "I don't want to go anywhere. I want to go to China, or coach or play arena football."
World Peace said he has spoken to Yao Ming about joining his former Houston Rockets teammate's Chinese team, the Shanghai Sharks. He said he's had conversations with representatives from "a couple other teams" in China, as well.
World Peace recently completed a trip to Beijing and Qingdao, which further fueled his idea of playing in China should he be amnestied. A league source told ESPNLosAngeles.com that World Peace has explored the option of playing in China through conversations with former NBA players who have made the leap, figuring out if the path blazed by the likes of Stephon Marbury, Steve Francis and Gilbert Arenas would be right for him.
"You don't live twice," World Peace said. "You're not 33 twice. You won't be able to play in China at a good level again. I wouldn't be able to play in China again averaging, maybe, 40 or more points. That would be fun."
It could all just be an entertaining bluff from World Peace, of course. The Lakers still have to pay him his $7.7 million salary for next season, but he is now on the market and teams with cap room can claim him off waivers via a bidding process.
If a team puts a bid on him and World Peace chose to retire rather than report to it, he would put his entire salary at risk, including money the Lakers owe to him. It would be an unprecedented scenario; no amnestied player that has been picked up off waivers ever has gone that route since the current collective bargaining agreement went into place in December 2011.
Should World Peace clear the 48-hour waiver-style bidding process without any team making a bid, he would become an unrestricted free agent and would be free to sign with the team of his choice [including teams above the luxury-tax threshold, which still could offer him the veteran's minimum]. An amnestied player may not be re-signed by the team that released him, however, until the contract that was waived expired [which in World Peace's case would be the summer of 2014].
Jose Morales, a longtime friend and confidant of World Peace, told ESPNNewYork.com earlier this week that the veteran small forward would consider retirement if a team claimed him from a city for which he did not want to play.
"If one of these small-market teams picks him up, he won't be happy with that," Morales said. "He doesn't want to play there."
Morales said World Peace would be open to playing for the Clippers, but if he can't stay in Los Angeles, he would want to play only in New York.
World Peace, however, said the ship has sailed on playing in his hometown.
"I had a chance to play in New York [in the past]," World Peace said. "I wanted to play in New York when I was in my prime and I was young, fierce, lock-down [defender]. Madison Square Garden, that would have been sick. But right now, China is way more adventurous for me."
World Peace also said that his surgically repaired left knee -- he had a torn meniscus repaired in March, then had approximately 20 CCs of liquid drained from a popliteal cyst in it -- is still not healthy.
"My knee is sore," said World Peace, who missed the Lakers' final playoff game due to the knee. "I'm definitely not going to be pounding my knee now that I'm amnestied. I'm not even thinking about pounding my knee right now. I'm good with just where I'm at right now."
He did not think his knee would prevent him from playing in China, however, for the next 1-2 years.
"It's a short season," World Peace said. "Thirty-something games. I could show up when I want to show up."
World Peace entered the Lakers' training facility on Friday shortly after the team introduced Nick Young as their newest signee. Young is expected to start at small forward next season, taking World Peace's place.
Despite coming off a resurgent season in which he averaged 12.4 points [up from 7.7 in 2011-12] and 5.0 rebounds [up from 3.4] and improved his shooting percentages from the floor, the 3-point line and the foul line, the 14-year veteran said he wants to "just explore something else."
World Peace met with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak on Friday and said there were no hard feelings.
"It was an extra $24 million that was going to have to come from a family-owned business," World Peace said, referring to the approximate total of what it would cost the Lakers to pay his salary, plus luxury taxes in 2013-14, if they did not amnesty him.
"I'm really close with the [Buss] family, so I would not want the family-owned business to have to come out of pocket like that. So, I definitely supported the decision."
World Peace said when he heard rumors earlier in the week that he would be amnestied, he reached out to Kupchak immediately with an alternative plan to keep him in L.A.
"I said, 'Mitch, I want to come back and coach this year,'" World Peace said. "That was the first thing I texted Mitch. I said, 'Don't worry about it.' I said, 'I understand what you have to do and I would love to help the young guys. I want to coach. I want to help y'all win a championship.'"
And if China or coaching doesn't work out, there's always arena football on which to fall back.
"I enjoy myself," World Peace said. "I definitely enjoy myself. I don't do something unless it's going to be fun. I'm telling you, if I have a chance to play arena football, I'm going to do it. You guys will see me there, and you're going to be writing about it."
Hire him, Phil. Hire him, Buss family.