In a somewhat surprising move last offseason, the Lakers signed an old friend in Metta World Peace. It was clear from the get-go that World Peace was brought in
to kick it with Kobe in his last season as a mentor for the younger guys on the team. World Peace has never been a prolific scorer, always carrying a reputation as a lockdown defender. However, in an interview with ESPN’s Ian Begley, the player formally known as Ron let on that he could’ve added something more to last year’s Lakers team.
When asked if he was talking to any teams, World Peace explained that he isn’t in contact with any NBA franchise, but he’s ready when he gets the call.
I can still play. I can play, it’s not even a question man. But, you know, sometimes you don’t get in the game, man. What are you going to do? I’m not going to be upset, I’m going to support. So if I don’t play, like this year on the Lakers I could have averaged 15 or 20 on the Lakers if I played, easily. But you know, I’ll be supportive [if I don’t play]. But the only thing that gets me frustrated with the whole basketball is people think I can’t play anymore. So as a man, I take that personally.
The Metta World Peace offense would have been something to behold, but there is reason to believe the 17-win Lakers team was better off keeping World Peace on the bench. Byron Scott not knowing any offensive concepts is one, but World Peace had not averaged over 15 points per game in the 5 years leading up to the 2015-2016 season, which was his sixth consecutive season under 15 per game.
World Peace clarified that he was still able to mentor his teammates and make sure their careers are headed in the right direction, most notably Julius Randle.
But at the same time I’m able to still focus on making sure Julius Randle is doing his thing, and he’s focused, making sure I can give back.
Randle and World Peace had formed a relationship in last year’s offseason, working all through the calendar year with each other. Randle isn’t the only NBA player World Peace has worked close with, though.
Right now, I’m life coaching a lot of people that are in the NBA. I can’t say [who]. But I coach a couple players. But it’s not a thing where I’m going to hide and be that perfect mentor. I just give them the best advice I can and live my life accordingly. I’m doing that now and one day I would love to coach.
When he was signed last season, World Peace was seen as a player-coach of sorts and most of his contributions to the team would be behind the scenes. Coming back to the Lakers must have seemed like a no-brainer to World Peace, having played overseas in the year prior and still having an affinity for the Lakers and the city of Los Angeles.
The Lakers are tattooed in my heart. They gave me a second chance when everyone was down on me, they gave me a chance to win a ring. The city of Los Angeles, they put up with me.
While it is unlikely World Peace can play in the NBA at a high level again, The Panda’s Friend can still light it up in other basketball entities, like the famed Drew League.
All stats from Basketball-Reference.com*