We have had plenty of Lakers postmortems in the wake of their Game 5 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Most concern whether or not they'll try to make a big trade involving Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum or both. It's a period of great flux for the franchise, and all we can be sure of is that Kobe Bryant will continue to play a huge role in whatever happens.
Whether or not Metta World Peace will be part of that future is anyone's guess. After signing with the Lakers as Ron Artest in 2009, he was an integral part of the Lakers' championship that season. Over the past two seasons, however, they've seen diminishing returns on their investment, with MWP becoming less dependable, more reckless (the elbow to the head of James Harden will always make that point), and a little pudgier around his midsection. He has one more year on his contract, plus a player option season that he'd be a fool not to take, but the Lakers might consider using their amnesty clause on him to save some cash.
World Peace, to his credit, took some blame for his struggles this season while at Lakers HQ on Tuesday for his season-ending interview. However, in doing so, he also called his coach fat. From Mark Medina for the Los Angeles Times on Twitter (via PBT):
Metta on Mike Brown: "It was a drastic change and took getting used to. But at the same time, we should still be up 3-2..."
"...Mike wasn't out there guarding Kevin [Durant]. That was me. Mike didn't miss three point shot. I missed it. Mike didn't come in out of shape..."
"...Wait he did come in out of shape. Mike is a fat a$$."
Brown seems to have a good sense of humor, so I'm going to assume that he was not terribly troubled by these comments. Part of dealing with MWP as a player is accepting that he's going to say and do some goofy things — the real trouble is in keeping him from doing anything terribly reckless or violent. When he's playing well, he's an eccentric but positive presence. When he's not so great, the entire experience can get a little grating.
MWP played well in spurts this season, particularly towards the end of the year as he got into better shape. Nevertheless, he might not be able to contribute what the Lakers need. Fans sometimes turn on many players in that spot, and World Peace might meet that fate if he's not let go. But if he's not, it's important to remember that the tenor of his personality is more dependent on context rather than any huge change in himself. No matter the situation, he likes to make jokes, do weird stuff, and treat life like a big occasionally destructive carnival.
It's natural for everyone to tolerate that behavior more when he's an asset. He can still be fun, though, and we'd do well not to reject that aspect of his personality entirely.
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