After Dwight Howard rebuffed the Los Angeles Lakers at the altar, they amnestied forward Metta World Peace, eliminating his $7.7 million salary off the books and saving $14 million in luxury tax payments. It was a fiscally savvy move, since paying upwards of $100 million for a middling roster isn't exactly an optimal investment.
It does hurt the Lakers on the floor, where they were 8.1 points per 100 possessions worse with World Peace on the bench last season per NBA.com.
World Peace signed with the New York Knicks for a pittance (two-years, $3.25 million), but he did briefly consider signing with the San Antonio Spurs. Gregg Popovich, for one, was interested in adding the mercurial 33-year-old forward, according to World Peace's brother, Daniel Artest.
Via New York Post:
“I finally met Popovich, told him I was a big Spurs fan and he said he always liked Ron on his team,’’ Artest said. “I relayed the message, tried to convince [World Peace], but my brother didn’t believe me.’’
World Peace averaged 12.4 points and five rebounds per game last season while shooting 40.3 percent from the field, his highest mark since the 2009-10 season. World Peace isn't a particularly efficient scorer, save for mid-range looks and corner 3-pointers, but he still can competently check small forwards and occasionally power forwards, despite age sapping most of his athleticism. The Lakers struggled mightily on the defensive end all season, and were merely average with World Peace on the floor, but even average represented a significant improvement from their nominal efficiency. Artest doesn't particularly buy the notion that his brother is washed up either.
“I’m not worried [he’s washed up],’’ Artest said. “It’s all about heart. The way Ron plays, he will help the Knicks out the way he plays defense and take pressure off Carmelo [Anthony], [who] won’t have to guard the best forward guy anymore. [World Peace] can guard the power forward. He held a lot of power forwards like Zach Randolph, David West and LaMarcus [Aldridge] last season way below their scoring average. He’s still very strong and has a lot of game left.’’
World Peace, meanwhile, will play with his hometown Knicks this season and potentially in 2014-15 (if he picks up his $1.66 million player option), where he's expected to provide ample amounts of defense, and quirkiness — the latter making him a polarizing character in the NBA.