COMMENTARY | Following an extremely tough season with the Los Angeles Lakers, Metta World Peace was suddenly looking for a new team this offseason.
The Lakers used their amnesty clause to free themselves of his contract after realizing that they may take a step or two back this season. For a while, there was speculation that the Lakers would do this, as World Peace was simply not worth what he was being paid. With Dwight Howard no longer in town and Kobe Bryant recovering from an Achilles injury, the move made plenty of sense for the Lakers.
In search of wing depth, the New York Knicks were able to bring World Peace to town on a very reasonable deal. He will still be getting paid by the Lakers, a huge advantage for a team like the Knicks looking for cheap depth. When you commit a large amount of money to a handful of players, finding bargains like this is an important part of the process.
He should figure to help the Knicks, but to what extent?
As a tough perimeter defender who can also serve as a decent shooter from 3, one would believe that Metta's services would be in high demand in New York. However, as you take a look down the roster, it's tough to see exactly how he fits in and where he finds his minutes.
He will likely be competing with Carmelo Anthony, Iman Shumpert, Andrea Bargnani, J.R. Smith, and Amar'e Stoudemire for minutes. Mike Woodson likes to toy around with lineup combinations, so it's unclear if World Peace will serve primarily as a small forward or a stretch power forward. The Knicks seem intent on giving Bargnani a significant chance as a backup power forward, although this may not last terribly long, depending on what Bargnani ends up bringing to the table. Additionally, Martin and Stoudemire figure to be fixtures in the rotation. Excluding Bargnani, it will be hard to justify taking very many minutes from this group to give to World Peace.
At small forward, the situation is just as foggy. Woodson showed he liked playing Shumpert at small forward last season, particularly after he showed an improved 3-point shot. With Woodson's love for lineups with two point guards, Shumpert fits in nicely at small forward. Although he is better off at power forward, it is inevitable that Melo will also get some minutes at small forward as well.
Both Shumpert and Melo figure to be huge pieces to this year's team, so where are the minutes for Metta?
Metta's value will probably come later on in the season, as injuries begin to pile up. The Knicks were extremely shallow in the frontcourt last season following some bad breaks before signing Kenyon Martin, and they were very fortunate that Martin was ready to contribute right away. World Peace would have been very nice to have on the bench at that time, as he could have given the Knicks enough quality minutes to stay afloat.
Additionally, World Peace will be an asset to Mike Woodson on a matchup basis. Being able to play quality, physical defense on some of the league's best perimeter scorers for a few minutes per night will be a huge relief for Shumpert and Melo, keeping them fresh during the season.
It's important to remember that Metta also has a championship pedigree. He may seem crazy more often than not, but World Peace's voice should still be an important one.
On the surface, it might not seem as if Metta World Peace figures to have a huge role with the New York Knicks. As you dig a little deeper, however, it's easy to see how valuable he could end up being during a long season in a much-improved Eastern Conference.
Chris lives in Connecticut and covers the New York Knicks. He grew up in New York and is a lifelong follower of the NBA.
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- New York Knicks
- Metta World Peace
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