By Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)
After being passed up 14 years ago in the 1999 NBA Draft for Frederic Weis, Metta World Peace, formerly known as Ron Artest, is finally returning home. After being released via the amnesty clause from the Los Angeles Lakers Saturday night, World Peace agreed to a two-year contract with the New York Knicks. The deal is worth approximately $1.6 million per year with second year being a player option. The Knicks used the remainder of their mini mid-level exception to bring World Peace aboard.
To say MWP is excited about returning home to play for his hometown Knicks is an understatement. After being amnestied he talked about possibly playing in China for Yao Ming or taking up Arena Football, but in the end the pull of hometown was too much to pass up. "Being in my prime, I think China would have been very inspirational," World Peace said. "But then you get back to that orange and blue and you know that orange and blue blood, you've got to come back home. You've got to come back home."
MWP gave an impromptu interview during the Knicks NBA Summer League game Monday afternoon shortly after he agreed to go there, talking about what why he picked to sign with the Knicks and what he expected.
It was a very telling interview, as MWP sounds ready to help the Knicks on the court. He even took some time to poke some fun at the Knicks rivals in the Brooklyn Nets:
Where Brooklyn at?MWP has had his issues, namely the Malice in the Palace when a brawl between players and fans erupted between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons. More recently he was also suspended during the 2012 season for elbowing Oklahoma City Thunder’s James Harden in the head. The only negative MWP brings is the unpredictable and questionable behavior he sometimes exhibits. Being back home could exacerbate those erratic behaviors with the New York media involved, or it could settle him down even more having a calming influence on him.
— Metta World Peace (@MettaWorldPeace) July 15, 2013
While there are several question marks, there is no question that he has something left in the tank. World Peace averaged 12.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.6 steals per game with the Lakers last season. His most impressive feat was his return from injury last year; after requiring knee surgery that was supposed to keep him out of the lineup for six weeks, he returned to the court to play in two.
World Peace will fill a massive hole at the small forward position on the Knicks roster. With all signs towards head coach Mike Woodson sticking with Carmelo Anthony at the power forward position, MWP will be a perfect complimentary player next to him. At 6’7” and 260 pounds he has the strength to match up with bigger opponents but also the speed and quickness to harass smaller players. He has obviously lost a step from the height of his NBA career but he can still help the Knicks immensely with his versatile defense.
He also will not hurt them on the offensive side. He can knock down the corner 3-pointer, something that is a must to get playing time on the Knicks. He can also create off the dribble in half-court sets and finish in transition; something that Steve Novak and Chris Copeland were not always able to do last season. MWP, even at the age of 33 going on 34, is light years ahead of either player on the defensive side.
World Peace will bring a championship pedigree along with him as he won a championship with the Lakers in 2010 and has loads of playoff experience, playing in 85 playoff games throughout his 14 year career. With Marcus Camby, Kurt Thomas and Rasheed Wallace no longer in the picture, MWP will provide the old-school, veteran toughness that is needed in the Eastern Conference. He will also be a culture changer much like Tyson Chandler was as someone who will challenge the other players on the roster to dig in on the defensive end.