Posts Tagged ‘Metta World Peace’

No Love For The Knicks?





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The ending was a bitter pill to swallow for fans of the New York Knicks last season. Falling to the Indiana Pacers the way they did in the Eastern Conference semifinals, getting pushed around and basically overwhelmed by a healthier and more defensively sound team, exposed the weaknesses that were there all along.

That crash landing in the playoffs might explain the lack of buzz surrounding these Knicks as the start of 2013-14 season nears. As we get closer to tip-off of the regular season, you hear about the Pacers, Chicago Bulls and even the Brooklyn Nets as teams the Heat need to worry about before anyone mentions the Knicks.

There’s no love for the Knicks these days and you have wonder: Why?

The reasons for the lukewarm interest in the Knicks are varied. There was no free agent splash over the summer (sorry Metta World Peace). There was no miraculous recovery for Amar’e Stoudemire. Carmelo Anthony needed time to heal his battered body in an attempt to recover from the pounding he took last season. J.R. Smith didn’t exactly distinguish himself in the offseason either with a five-game suspension looming at the start of the regular season.

It’s a lesson plenty of would-be contenders learn when their results don’t match the expectations. And for a time last season, the Knicks, not the Pacers, looked like the team that would challenge the Miami Heat for that trip to The Finals.

Everyone seems to have forgotten all of the positive work the Knicks did last year, finishing with a 54-28 record, winning their first playoff series in over a decade and coach Mike Woodson finishing third in Coach of the Year voting.

Woodson’s teams in Atlanta got progressively better in each of his six seasons without the Hawks ever making the sort of free agent splash that usually spurs a dramatic rise in a team’s fortunes. Woodson, despite a legion of vocal critics, is one of a handful of coaches in the league with a proven track record of taking a disjointed group and making sure they compete at a high level.

And disjointed might be a kind word for the group the Knicks will suit up this season. The Raymond Felton-Pablo Prigioni backcourt tandem is interesting, to say the least, and the Iman Shumpert-Smith battle at shooting guard promises to deliver plenty of drama (and potentially headaches for Woodson) throughout the season.

(Shumpert insists he’s playing with a “chip on his shoulder” that could help fuel the Knicks early on, and that’s a good thing.)

Call me crazy, but I think World Peace is going to be a fit and rookie swingman Tim Hardaway Jr. is certainly going to be a factor. The only glaring question for me is if Andrea Bargnani can revive his career as the floor-spacing stretch-4 the Knicks need to free everyone else up to play to their specific strengths?

You never know what you’re going to get with Amar’e because of his injury issues and even with an offseason worth of work on his jump shot it’s hard to lean too hard on Tyson Chandler for the offensive help Bargnani should be able to provide immediately.

Ultimately, the pieces are in place for the Knicks to battle for a top four spot in the Eastern Conference playoff chase. That’s just a fact, even if no one outside of the Knicks’ locker room believes it.


Can Dwight-less L.A. Actually Be Better?

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HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – Don’t go misinterpreting the headline as this somehow trumpeting the Los Angeles Lakers as a serious challenger for the West crown, let alone a threat to unseat the Miami Heat.

The NBA still wants L.A. showcased on Christmas Day, but this isn’t 2012-13 after all. That fantasy ended, a certain center did say, as a nightmare.

Still, there is the 2013-14 season to play before the Lakers can go LeBron and ‘Melo hunting next summer. In a loaded West where San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles Clippers, Houston, Golden State and Memphis look like playoff locks before the first tip, and Minnesota and Portland could be fast-risers, the mighty Lakers could again be scraping for a playoff berth come mid-April.

But is there a chance that this re-tooled Lakers roster will be better off than last year’s dysfunctional bunch? This entire discussion begins and ends with health, starting with Kobe Bryant‘s unpredictable return from Achilles surgery at 35 (Aug. 23), Pau Gasol‘s feet and knees at 33 and Steve Nash‘s back and body at 40 (Feb. 7). Another injury return, and a significantly underestimated one, is power forward Jordan Hill, 26, coming back from a torn labrum in his hip. He played just 29 games last season.

Any setbacks or new injuries to any of the “Big Three” for an extended stretch will sink the season. The roster is way too thin to cover for the heavy lifters. Deep into the luxury tax for next season, the Lakers had no way to substantially upgrade the roster even after Dwight Howard bolted. They opted for a bit of financial relief and used the amnesty provision to part with a slowed-down Metta World Peace. They let a handful of free agents go and replaced them with Jordan Farmar, Nick Young, Wesley Johnson and Chris Kaman. Not exactly a Murderer’s Row.
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2013-14 ROSTER 2012-13 ROSTER
PG: Nash, Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar PG: Nash, Blake, Chris Duhon, Darius Morris
SG: Bryant, Jodie Meeks SG: Bryant, Meeks, Andrew Goudelock
SF: Nick Young, Wesley Johnson SF: Metta World Peace, Antawn Jamison, Devin Ebanks
PF: Jordan Hill, Ryan Kelly PF: Pau Gasol, Hill, Earl Clark
C: Gasol, Chris Kaman, Robert Sacre C: Dwight Howard, Sacre

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“We’re excited to see what we can make of ourselves,” Nash recently told reporters. “We really are going to try for the second consecutive year to find chemistry and identity, but we’re excited for it, so we’ll see.”

Not exactly a title guarantee, but at least it’s a roster full of players, both young and old, with something to prove. That goes for coach Mike D’Antoni, too, who needs to prove he can stretch and grow with a team not stocked with youthful gazelles to carry out his high-octane offense.

So here’s why this Lakers team, as unimpressive as it might look on paper, can be better:

No more Dwight tension: The charade is over. There will be no more microscopic Dwight-Kobe relationship introspection, no more D’Antoni railing against utilizing the strengths of two low-post players, no more Gasol groveling about standing 18 feet from the basket. There should be plenty of fresh air here. Gasol will start at center where he will be more comfortable and presumably more effective, and Kobe won’t get rankled day-in and day-out by Howard’s playful ways.

Nash back to being Nash: Assuming he is healthy, Nash should more resemble the player we know, the one who creates for others and doesn’t stand off in the corner. L.A. will still be big with Hill likely starting alongside Gasol, but Young will spread the floor better than MWP and should be a consistent 3-ball threat. Wes Johnson can also run the floor as well as the 6-10 Hill, so this should help Nash push the ball more. And with Kobe coming back from the devastating Achilles injury, perhaps he’ll be more accepting of playing like a traditional shooting guard and be less commanding of the ball, as he said was the plan when the Lakers traded for Nash last summer.

Offense was already pretty good: Despite all the dysfunction and injury issues, the Lakers still averaged 102.2 points, sixth-best in the league. They’ll miss Howard’s 58.7 field-goal percentage, but their middle-of-the-pack 3-point shooting should improve. It’s still up to D’Antoni to coach to his personnel’s strengths and not what he would like their strengths to be. While this group should be able to run sporadically, Kobe isn’t exactly prepared to do that and the high-mileage Gasol isn’t Amare Stoudemire in his prime. Still, the offense should be able to create an identity starting in training camp, run efficiently and score at a high rate.

Rambis’ mission: Defense. The Lakers were horrible last season, playing as if they had never heard of a rotation. So in one of the more interesting hires of the season, D’Antoni reached out to Kurt Rambis, a former Lakers blue-collar forward and assistant under Phil Jackson. As an analyst on Lakers broadcasts and nationally for ESPN, Rambis was a harsh critic of D’Antoni, specifically how he used his personnel. Now Rambis must find a way to make a starting five that includes Nash, Young and a recovering Kobe to D-up. When Howard was on the bench last season, the Lakers were abysmal defensively. Hill’s return will help on the boards and defending the paint. With a training camp to implement a scheme and, Rambis hopes, an identity — something the Lakers never attained last season — it is possible to turn a porous defense lacking great individual defenders into a pretty decent team defense. Still, it is not a job for the faint of heart.

So what does it all mean for the Lakers? Are they destined for the lottery or can they be one of the season’s surprise teams and make it back to the playoffs?

The World Peace Wake Up Call!



HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – An alarm clock would have worked just fine.

But Metta World Peace doesn’t do conventional very often. In fact, who else but the New York Knicks’ colorful forward could deliver this timely wake up call to young Josiah Andres (at the urging of Josiah’s dad, Michael Andres):



Knicks super fan Spike Lee would have preferred something a little stronger … something along the lines of this



But Metta (or is it still World Peace?) has plenty of time to perfect his routine.

Blogtable: Free-Agent Reaches




Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


Summer Loving | Free-agent Flop | Top of the East


Give me a free-agent signing that you just don’t like.

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: I’m not a fan of World Peace. World Peace is overrated. New York is not a place conducive to World Peace. OK, enough playing around … But I don’t think Metta World Peace does much for the Knicks other than generate tabloid headlines. He’ll be 34 two weeks into the regular season, his game has more football than basketball in it now and he’s 10 seasons removed from his 2004 Defensive Player award. I know the price was right, given the Lakers’ amnesty move, and the personality is appropriately outsized for that market, but I think the city and the spotlight will distract him. Best thing about the move? He can hop in a cab when the NBA’s new discipline boss Rod Thorn calls him in.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: I could list a few the Bucks made, particularly handing O.J. Mayo $24 million over three years, but I’m going with the Mavs giving Jose Calderon four years and $29 million as he turns 32 before the start of training camp. Hey, the guy can shoot the 3, there’s no doubt about that, and he’s a heady player that doesn’t make many mistakes. But he’s a poor defender and can’t get to the rim. Seems like a lot of years and cash to give the Spaniard when they are also still expected to sign Devin Harris (his initial deal with Dallas fell through after the discovery of a toe injury that requires surgery) and have a couple of intriguing rookies that need developing in Israeli Gal Mekel and first-round draft pick Shane Larkin, both of whom now seem to be buried on the depth chart. The Mavs continually talk about developing their own, but they don’t stand by that.

Tyreke Evans

Tyreke Evans (NBAE)

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Josh Smith to Detroit. As much as Smith can make an impact, especially on defense, that money for that team at this time strikes of a franchise desperate for a free-agent splash. Desperate to the point of forcing it. How much time will he get at power forward to slow the development of the two young bigs, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond? How many shots will he take from the lottery-pick rookie, Kentavious Caldwell Pope?

John Schuhmann, NBA.comMonta Ellis, of course. He should be slightly more efficient playing next to Jose Calderon and Dirk Nowitzki than he was next to Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova, but he’s still going to miss a lot of bad shots and hurt the Mavs defensively. He’s a player that makes more of a negative impact than a positive one and for $8 million a year, that’s not good. But hey, the Mavs were desperate.

Sekou Smith, NBA.comThe New Orleans Pelicans signing Tyreke Evans gives me pause for financial and fit reasons. The price, four years and $44 million, was steep. But adding Evans to a shooting guard group that already includes Eric Gordon and Austin Rivers doesn’t make much sense to me, unless the Pelicans plan on deploying Evans at small forward, where Al-Farouq Aminu is a much better option. Of course, the Pelicans could be embracing the “positionless/small ball” fad that requires LeBron James (or a LeBron James-like figure … though there is only one) to run properly. Keep in mind, the Pelicans added Evans after trading for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday. Signing Evans to potentially come off the bench for that price just doesn’t make much sense.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blogAndrew Bynum to Cleveland. I know the deal is only partially guaranteed and there’s a team option after the first year, but a risk is still a risk. And if you’re a young team trying to make the leap into being not only a playoff team but becoming an upper echelon team, I’m not sure taking a risk right now is the most prudent thing to do. I like Bynum, as a player and a person, but if I’m Cleveland, at this point I’d need him to prove himself first.

‘Amnesty THAT!’ An Amnesty Find Is Rare

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HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – The two-word tweet Kobe Bryant directed at Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban after he grilled Cuban’s team for 38 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists in a game last season was priceless. Earlier that week, Cuban suggested that the Lakers should consider amnestying Bryant this offseason as a means for Los Angeles to shrink the enormous luxury-tax bill coming after next season.

The notion was resurrected after Bryant, due to make $30.45 million in 2013-14, tore his Achilles tendon in the third-to-last game of the regular season because of the assumed probability that he will miss a chunk of next season. Of course, the Lakers had no intention to amnesty Bryant by Tuesday’s deadline.

Had they, making him available to a team for dirt cheap, Bryant would have become the first superstar cut loose via the amnesty provision that took effect at the conclusion of the 2011 lockout as part of the new collective bargaining agreement.

Twenty players in all have been waived via the amnesty provision. Three got the news Tuesday, bringing this summer’s amnesty total to five.

The wisdom of the provision is to allow each team the one-time ability to remove a contract from its books. The team must still pay the player’s remaining salary, but it no longer counts against the salary cap or luxury tax.

The amnestied player (who must have been under contract prior to the new CBA) goes through a waiver process with teams under the salary cap granted first crack to acquire the player through a bidding process. The highest bidder wins and signs the player at the bid price with the former team responsible for the balance.

It could provide a cheap way for a team to fill a hole with a serviceable rotation player set free by a team needing financial relief – which was the Miami Heat’s purpose Tuesday in amnestying popular sharpshooter Mike Miller. More often than not, however, teams, naturally, have utilized the amnesty provision to eradicate expensive mistakes or free themselves of players no longer worth their lucrative deals such as waiving disappointing, non-productive players (Darko Milicic, Travis Outlaw), older/high-mileage players (James Posey, Elton Brand) or headcases (Gilbert Arenas, Andray Blatche).

Of the 15 players amnestied in 2011 and 2012, four (Posey, Charlie Bell, Ryan Gomes and Milicic) were never signed by another team and eight (Arenas, Bell, Josh Childress, Baron Davis, Gomes, Milicic, Posey, Brandon Roy) are currently out of the league. Only five players remain with the teams that signed them through or after the amnesty waiver process, and of those just three — Luis Scola (Phoenix), Blatche (Brooklyn) and Chris “Birdman” Andersen — played significant roles last season.

Of the five players amnestied this summer, the underwhelming Tyrus Thomas has yet to be signed. Drew Gooden, Linas Kleiza and Miller are in the midst of the 48-hour waiver bidding process. Metta World Peace, amnestied by the Lakers, signed a two-year deal with his hometown New York Knicks.

The 6-foot-11 Blatche and the Brooklyn Nets are hands-down the feel-good story of the amnesty provision. Just 26, Blatche’s talent is immense, but so was his penchant for doing dumb things with the dysfunctional Wizards. Fed up, Washington gave up on him. Few teams bit until the Nets figured they had nothing to lose, signing Blatche to a one-year deal for less than $1 million while the Wizards were on the hook for more than $7 million. Blatche emerged as an integral part of the Nets’ return to the playoffs, averaging 10.3 ppg and 5.1 rpg off the bench. Last week Blatche re-signed for a reported two years and $2.9 million.

But Blatche is clearly the exception. The Mavericks hoped to get a steal with their winning bid of $2.1 million for the amnestied Brand, who was due to make $18 million last season with the Philadelphia 76ers. Brand, while well-liked in Dallas, posted his worst statistical season of his career, averaging 7.2 ppg and 6.0 rpg. He recently signed a free-agent deal with Atlanta.

Chauncey Billups, amnestied in 2011 by the Knicks to make room to sign Tyson Chandler, played just 42 total games the last two seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers, and recently signed a free-agent deal with the Detroit Pistons. Center Brendan Haywood was nonexistent in Charlotte last season after being amnestied by the Mavs.

And remember the potential Childress had? Amnestied by the Phoenix Suns in 2012, he’s one of the eight players no longer working in the NBA. The amnesty bust list goes on and on.

So who are the 10 teams yet to play their amnesty card, and which players are eligible? Here they are: Atlanta (Al Horford), Boston (Rajon Rondo), Chicago (Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah), Detroit (none), Memphis (Mike Conley, Zach Randolph), New Orleans (none), Oklahoma City (Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Durant, Nick Collison), Sacramento Kings (John Salmons), San Antonio (Tony Parker) and Utah (none).

But that is now speculation for next summer.

Luxury Tax Reality: Heat Amnesty Miller





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat are not immune to the harsh economic realities facing the league’s biggest spenders under the new collective bargaining agreement.

The waiving of veteran shooter and surprise 2012 Finals hero Mike Miller via the amnesty provision this afternoon is proof. Miller joins Metta World Peace, formerly of the Los Angeles Lakers and now a member of the New York Knicks, as the most prominent players to be amnestied this summer. The Charlotte Bobcats also used the amnesty provision on Tyrus Thomas last week.

(You can see all of the players who have suffered the same fate on NBA.com’s Amnesty Tracker.)

The move came as something of a surprise after Heat boss Pat Riley addressed the possibility of this happening by saying there would be no need for the Heat to use this one-time measure to clear salary cap space.

“After many discussions internally and a sincere effort to explore the trade market, we made a very difficult decision to use our Amnesty provision on Mike Miller,” Riley said in a statement. “Mike had an incredible impact on the Miami Heat; helping us to three finals appearances and winning back-to-back world championships. This was a very difficult decision for me personally, the Arison family, Erik and the entire Miami Heat organization. Mike was one of the best we have ever had here, and will be sorely missed. We wish Mike, his wife Jennifer and their family nothing but the best.”

This was a purely economical move for the Heat, who could save $30 million in luxury tax payments over the nest two seasons simply by removing Miller’s $12.8 million in salary from the books for the 2013-14 season and the 2014-15 season. The Heat still will have to pay Miller the salary he is owed but it won’t impact their own salary cap bottom line.

Miller, whose penchant for knocking down big shots at big moments in both of the Heat’s title runs, was clearly wounded  by the move.

“I understand the business side of basketball,” he told The Associated Press. “It’s a combination of being very, very thankful for the opportunity that I’ve had, but it hurts that we had a chance to do something very, very special and I’d love to have been a part of it.”

This is the strictly business portion of the program for veterans like Miller and World Peace, guys who helped their now former franchises to championships.

“I know I can be very, very productive for a couple years for sure,” Miller said. “But at the same time, it would be very difficult to go into a situation where you’re not competing for a title. So I’m going to have to weigh those things, and we’ll see how it plays out.”

Miller’s time in Miami was well spent. He leaves having been an integral part of a Heat crew led by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh that made three straight trips to The Finals and walked off with Larry O’Brien trophies in back-to-back years.

Heat fans will surely never forget some of his most memorable moments from the title runs, and that includes his shoeless 3-pointer from Game 6 of last month’s Finals and certainly the seven 3-pointers he made in the title-clinching Game 5 win over Oklahoma City in 2012.

“I love Mike. We all love Mike,” Wade told The Associated Press. “It’s tough to lose one of our brothers. But I think we all understand it’s not personal. It’s a business decision.”

It’s strictly business these days for the NBA’s biggest spenders.

World Peace Will Help Knicks’ D

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HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – It feels like Metta World Peace, a Queens native, was just meant to play for the New York Knicks. He’ll do just that after agreeing to a two-year deal with New York, on Monday, a move first reported by Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski. World Peace’s arena football career will apparently have to wait.

MWP and J.R. Smith in the same locker room has the potential for fireworks, but if he can keep his personality in check, the enigma formerly known as Ron Artest gives the Knicks something they need on the floor: a strong defender who can spell Carmelo Anthony and allow the league’s leading scorer to play minutes at power forward, where he’s most potent.

The defense is more important. The Knicks had the third best offense in the league last season, but only three teams — Philadelphia, New Orleans and Chicago — regressed more defensively. New York ranked 17th on that end of the floor after ranking fifth in the 2011-12 season. But the Knicks could now have a strong defensive unit with Pablo Prigioni, Iman Shumpert, World Peace, Anthony and Tyson Chandler on the floor.

Potential New York rotation
PG: Felton, ?
SG: Prigioni, Smith, Hardaway
SF: Shumpert, World Peace
PF: Anthony, Bargnani
C: Chandler, Stoudemire

If Anthony is now back to being more of a four than a three though, New York has two back-up bigs – Andrea Bargnani and Amar’e Stoudemire – who will make more than $32 million next season and really hurt the team defensively. If Mike Woodson dares to play the two together, his goatee will be gray by December.

New York also needs to find a third point guard to give Woodson the option of playing Prigioni at the two, a key to the team’s success at the end of last season. Furthermore, World Peace – whose effective field goal percentage (47.0 percent) and true shooting percentage (49.7 percent) over the last three seasons are both well below the league average – adds to the Knicks’ list of one-way players.

If they’re going to truly contend in the improved Eastern Conference next season, New York will need Chandler to play more like he did in ’11-12 than he did in ’12-13. He clearly regressed last season, failing to make the defensive impact that he made when he was voted Defensive Player of the Year.

There are still some questions to be answered, but New York is certainly a better defensive team now than they were 24 hours ago. And they’re certainly a lot more interesting.

Report: Knicks Leading In Chase To Sign Ex-Laker World Peace

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From NBA.com staff reports

As of Friday morning, Metta World Peace was no longer a Laker, having been waived by the team under the NBA’s amnesty provision.

A day after that transaction took place, World Peace was at his World Peace best, telling ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin that he didn’t want any NBA team to pick him up once he clears waivers. (In case you missed it over the weekend, World Peace told ESPN.com he wanted to either play in China next season or try his hand at arena football).

But whether or not World Peace wants an NBA team to sign him might be a moot point. As Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports, World Peace could find himself in the league next season … and with his hometown team:

Metta World Peace is expected to meet with New York Knicks executives in Las Vegas within the next two days, pushing the free-agent forward closer to an eventual contract agreement with the Knicks, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

The Knicks are the strong frontrunner to sign World Peace to a veteran’s minimum deal of $1.4 million for the 2013-14 season, sources said. A possible deal could include a second year with a player option, league sources said.

World Peace – once known as Ron Artest – grew up in the Queensbridge section of New York and attended St. John’s University.

World Peace went unclaimed in the amnesty waiver process and become a free agent on Sunday evening. No team placed a bid for him, leaving him free to sign with any team in the NBA except for the Los Angeles Lakers.

While a reunion with the hometown NBA franchise is still in the cards, that trip to China (or one just across the Staples Center hall to the L.A. Clippers’ locker room) could be in the cards as well, writes Chris Broussard of ESPN.com:

Metta World Peace wants to play for the New York Knicks, according to a person close to the veteran small forward.

World Peace cleared waivers late Sunday afternoon, making him an unrestricted free agent. A source told ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst that the Knicks, who can offer him part of their taxpayer mid-level exception [roughly $1.7 million], already have reached out to the former Los Angeles Laker.

While the Knicks are World Peace’s first choice, he is also holding onto the Los Angeles Clippers and China’s Shanghai Sharks as possible teams to join next season.

World Peace spoke Sunday with Yao Ming about playing in Shanghai, a source said.

Knicks coach Mike Woodson said Sunday he welcomed a potential addition of World Peace.

“I know his name has been surfacing out there,” Woodson said in Las Vegas, where New York has a summer league team competing. “I can coach any player. I coached guys from 18-, 19-, 20-year-old young men, and built a team in Atlanta, and that’s tough for a first-time coach. So I experienced that, and I don’t think there’s a player I can’t coach if he’s willing to be coached. … If anybody comes to this team, they’ve got to understand it’s all about team, man. It’s not about individuals here, it’s not about me as a coach. It’s about the New York franchise trying to win an NBA title. If you understand that, then we’ve got a chance.”

“I like his skill sets a lot. I think a lot of teams have liked his skill sets over the years. He does a little bit of everything.”

New York, Los Angeles, China … the world of Metta World Peace continues to spin at its own pace — as usual.

Houston, L.A. And Dallas Post-Dwight

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HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – The dust is settling and rosters emerging after the biggest free-agent move of the summer came down one week ago. Dwight Howard has positioned the Houston Rockets as Western Conference contenders while creating altered realities for the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks.

Because of their high-priced payroll, the Lakers have limited flexibility to strengthen their roster for the 2013-14 season. To lessen some of its financial burden, L.A. made it official on Thursday that it will use the amnesty provision to cut loose Metta World Peace, a move that Kobe Bryant made clear he’s not thrilled with on Twitter:

Had Howard remained with the Lakers, Pau Gasol might have been on the wrong end of the amnesty, but now he’ll be the Lakers starting center. L.A. has added Nick Young, Chris Kaman and Jordan Farmar to a roster that certainly has talent, but isn’t even expected to make the playoffs by some. 

The Mavs will scale a considerable mountain to not be lottery-bound in consecutive seasons. Dallas missed out on Deron Williams a year ago and watched Dwight pick their division rivals this time around. To make Mavs fans feel even worse, Andre Iguodala told the San Francisco Chronicle that he almost signed with Dallas an hour before committing to the Golden State Warriors. Dallas met with Andrew Bynum, but passed on making an offer.

Dallas was extremely high on Iguodala as an anchor for the future with Dirk Nowitzki in the case that Howard said no. The Mavs are in difficult spot now with a hodgepodge, guard-heavy roster that bears almost no resemblance to last season’s team that failed to make the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. It includes newcomers Jose Calderon, Devin Harris, Wayne Ellington and a couple of rookies in Shane Larkin and Israeli free-agent Gal Mekel.

At least Nowitzki kept a sense of humor after missing out on the prime DH target and signing another one:

Meanwhile in Houston, with Howard joining All-Star guard James Harden and emerging sharpshooter Chandler Parsons, the front office went to work to add more shooters around their new center, bringing back Francisco Garcia and agreeing to a deal with Reggie Williams.

Here’s how the Rockets, Lakers and Mavericks have filled out their rosters and who else each might be looking at:

HOUSTON ROCKETS (14)

PG: Jeremy Lin, Patrick Beverley, Isaiah Canaan

SG: James Harden, Francisco Garcia, Reggie Williams, James Anderson

SF: Chandler Parsons, Omri Casspi

PF: Greg Smith, Terrance Jones

C: Dwight Howard, Omer Asik, Donatas Motiejunas

Possibilities: Trade Lin and/or Asik

LOS ANGELES LAKERS (12)

PG: Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar

SG: Kobe Bryant, Jodie Meeks

SF: Nick Young, Chris Douglas-Roberts

PF: Jordan Hill, Ryan Kelly

C: Pau Gasol, Chris Kaman, Robert Sacre

Possibles: Lamar Odom, Sasha Vujacic

DALLAS MAVERICKS (11)

PG: Jose Calderon, Gal Mekel, Shane Larkin

SG: Devin Harris, Vince Carter, Wayne Ellington, Ricky Ledo

SF: Shawn Marion, Jae Crowder

PF: Dirk Nowitzki

C: Bernard James

Possibles: C Samuel Dalembert; C Greg Oden; C/F Brandan Wright; F/C Elton Brand

World Peace’s Memorable Run Ends

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HANG TIME WEST – There now. That wasn’t so bad, was it?

The Lakers survived Ron Artest-turned-Metta World Peace through four seasons, two names, two uniform numbers, one championship podium, one shooting slump (of about four seasons) and one continuous slide of his once-formidable defense. It’s all good, in other words.

In the final tally – and the best perspective as World Peace heads into free agency with the Orange County Register’s Kevin Ding reporting that World Peace will be amnestied – he was among the least of the Lakers’ problems. Try getting odds on that when they came together in summer of 2009 in a risky choice as management broke up a title lineup and chose then-Artest over bringing back Trevor Ariza, but the eye-rubbing truth is that the biggest issue with the starting small forward by any name was his play, and that’s a victory given his past.

He was quirky, to be sure. But that’s pretty common around the league by now and more than acceptable around the locker room that has known open superstar combat while winning championships.

The Lakers were close to heartless in two consecutive playoffs and most of the regular season of a third, coach Phil Jackson left, Mike Brown was under constant public pressure and finally asked to leave, there was discussion about a Jackson return, Mike D’Antoni was a controversial replacement, E! News showed up to training camp after Lamar Odom married a Kardashian, Magic Johnson was not shy about tipping over gas cans and flicking matches with public comments, Dwight Howard came, Dwight Howard went, Chris Paul was nearly acquired, Pau Gasol was forever in trade talks, and, oh, yeah, Kobe Bryant was in there somewhere.

“Among the least of the problems” might be a soft sell.

Winning a title the first season, 2009-10, justified the front office swapping Ariza for Artest, with the bonus validation of Artest in a starring role. He grabbed Bryant’s errant jumper/assist out of the air for the layup that gave the Lakers a back-breaking Game 5 win over the Suns in the Western Conference finals, a series they wrapped up in Phoenix in Game 6. Then, in Game 7 of The Finals against the Celtics, with both teams grinding gears on offense, he hit a clutch 3-pointer and finished with 20 points, five rebounds and five steals to get the Lakers over the finish line. Reaching the podium with his mind racing and thoughts coming in ricocheting tangents meant anything was possible, and not all good, but it turned out to be delightfully quirky Artest.

He did great things, playing an important role to help drive the Lakers to another crown and off the court raising awareness of mental-health issues and specifically working to improve care for youths. He auctioned off his championship ring for the cause and considered other fundraisers for future titles that never came.

The breakup could be seen coming from a long distance. It was a possibility all along anyway, and the Lakers falling out of title contention when Howard jumped to the Rockets all but clinched the decision to amnesty World Peace and save approximately $30 million. News of the impending departure comes the same week it was announced the Lakers owe $29.26 million in luxury tax for last season, with a harsher penalty kicking in for 2013-14.

World Peace will find a new home and the Lakers will find a new starting small forward for a lot less money, but they will always be linked by a put-back against the Suns, a 3-pointer against the Celtics and a union he and Bryant long wanted. That it is time to move on, if the amnesty does happen, is understandable, mostly because of the money. But it was a good run.