LOS ANGELES – Metta World Peace may not be worth the $7.7 million he’s due in salary next season. He’s certainly not worth the $19 million payout, including luxury taxes, that keeping him on the books in Los Angeles necessitates.
According to the Orange County Register, the Lakers will use their amnesty on World Peace “barring some late change.”
For the Lakers, whose chances at putting together a winning team next season are slim, every penny counts, and so it hardly came as a surprise when Kobe Bryant began tweeting about his team’s decision whether to amnesty World Peace.
The decision will come down to simple math. There is no reason for the Lakers not to use their amnesty provision, which would wipe the 33-year-old forward’s salary off the team’s cap concerns. (The Lakers would still have to pay World Peace the $7.7 million he’s due.) World Peace is one of four players – Bryant, Steve Blake and Pau Gasol are the other three – eligible to be amnestied, and of the four, he makes the most sense. Bryant is Bryant, and seemingly untouchable, and with his injury and Dwight Howard’s departure, Blake and Gasol became similarly necessary to next season’s team.
World Peace’s is an expiring deal, so the amnesty would only help the Lakers in the near term. However, the forward is past his prime, and his numbers have hardly been outstanding since he came to the Lakers from Houston in 2009. Sure, he started for them last season, which means the Lakers would have to draw from their nonexistent batch of qualified reserves to replace him, but at this point, so what? At this point, what is next season besides an opportunity to tank and regroup later?
With the way the tax is structured, the Lakers will have to pay $1.50 for every dollar they are over the luxury tax threshold; hence the $19 million payout they would avoid by letting World Peace go. With the rate of the tax becoming incremental this season, it’s going to become ever more punitive for teams to pay it, and it’ll take a hefty price tag to keep World Peace on a Lakers team that doesn’t necessarily need his services.
That’s not to say World Peace wouldn’t be picked up elsewhere if amnestied. He would be available to be claimed off waivers if amnestied, and if he were to be, the Lakers would only have to pay the difference between his new salary and what they owe him. If were to clear waivers, though, which he likely would, they’d be on the hook for the whole contract, no matter if another team eventually were to sign him.