Apr 24, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) has his shot blocked by Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace (15) during game two of the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at AT

Metta World Peace, soon to be a Cav?

On July 11, the Los Angeles Lakers used their amnesty provision to waive Metta World Peace and his salary from the team’s salary cap consideration. The move saved the Lakers $7.7 million from counting against their luxury tax, as the Lakers are over the salary cap for next season. The amnesty provision will reduce the Lakers’ tax bill by more than $10 million. Non- tax paying teams will now bid for his services, with the highest bidder being the winner. The winning bid amount will be deducted from the amount the Lakers owe the player for the 2013-14 season. Should no one bid, he will become a free agent, be able to sign with the team of his choice and the Lakers will be responsible for the full $7.7 million.

This is what Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak had to say: It’s tough to say goodbye to a player such as Metta, who has been a significant part of our team the past four seasons. For anyone who’s had the opportunity to get to know him, it’s impossible not to love him. He has made many contributions to this organization; both in his community work as well as in our games; perhaps no more so than in his clutch play in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals in helping to lead us over the Celtics in one of the greatest playoff wins in Lakers history. We thank Metta for all his contributions and wish him the best of luck in the future.

Always the jokester, World Peace sent out a series of tweets the next day, announcing that he is going to play for Yao Ming’s team in China and that he can’t wait to arrive in Shanghai. Later, he proclaimed, “I’m playing for the LA Kings! I’m retiring and playing hockey.” He also stated earlier in the week that he was interested in joining a contending team and wasn’t keen on being part of a rebuilding project. However, many of the contenders are over the cap and will not be able to bid for his services. With the Cavs signing of Andrew Bynum, I think he would have to consider them as a playoff contender, especially if they were to add his defensive skills and playoff experience to the mix at small forward. Such a move would reunite Peace with former Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown and former Lakers teammate Andrew Bynum, both recently signed by the Cavs.

So, what would World Peace mean to the Cleveland Cavs organization? First, the 6’7”, 260-pound forward would bring a tough, physical brand of defense to the team. He was named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2004, under his former name of Ron Artest. This toughness would go a long way in helping to develop the stable of young forwards that the Cavs have on their roster. A tough, hard-nosed veteran presence would show them how it is done and challenge them to stand up to their defensive assignments. On the down side, World Peace, at 33 years old, was more susceptible to injury last season.

During the 2012-13 season, he suffered a leg injury in January that hampered him for nearly two months. Around the same time, he suffered an injury to his right arm that made it difficult to bend. Finally, at the end of March, World Peace tore the lateral meniscus on his left knee and had surgery that was supposed to put him out for six weeks. World Peace came back just twelve days after surgery, as his teammates who were playing big minutes in coach Mike D’Antoni’s seven-player rotation in their drive to make the playoffs. Playing in pain, he gave much needed relief for a few minutes at a time, giving his teammates a much needed breather. For the season, he averaged his most points (12.4) since 2008-09 and shot his highest percentage (40.3) since 2009-10.

Metta World Peace has a lot that he can impart upon young NBA minds that would be of great value. He brings a tough, veteran presence and is a world champion. Right now, the Cavs can sign him as a free agent since he cleared the amnesty bidding process. I think that he has a lot to offer the team, for a season or two, and is definitely worthy of a roster spot. He would make an excellent Sherpa to guide our young talent into the world of “in your face” defense.

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