The Lakers announced Thursday that forward Metta World Peace has been released using the amnesty clause.
"It’s tough to say goodbye to a player such as Metta, who has been a significant part of our team the past four seasons," Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said in a statement. "For anyone who’s had the opportunity to get to know him, it’s impossible not to love him. He has made many contributions to this organization, both in his community work as well as in our games; perhaps no more so than in his clutch play in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals in helping to lead us over the Celtics in one of the greatest playoff wins in Lakers history. We thank Metta for all his contributions and wish him the best of luck in the future."
World Peace, 33, averaged 12.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game last season. He was set to earn $7.7 million in 2013-14. Per the terms of the league's amnesty provision, the Lakers will still owe World Peace that salary but it will be removed from their books for salary cap and luxury tax purposes.
"Mitch called me first," he tweeted. "Thanks. ... I'm going to play for Yao Ming's team in China! I can't wait to arrive in Shanghai!!"
World Peace will now enter a blind bidding pool, where teams that are under the salary cap can submit offers to take on a portion of his contract. If no bids are made in the blind pool, World Peace will become an unrestricted free agent.
The decision to release World Peace using the amnesty clause was first reported earlier this week, as the Lakers embark on a retooling mission following the departure of All-Star center Dwight Howard to the Rockets.
"Personally I'd keep Metta and make a run with the unit we have and just add a few pieces," Kobe Bryant tweeted on Monday. "No game 7 win without Metta! This is a tough day for Laker nation. Miss peace. New CBA casualty.
World Peace signed a five-year, $34 million contract with the Lakers in 2009 and went on to win a title in 2010 and the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award in 2011. The one-of-a-kind World Peace changed his name from Ron Artest in 2011 and was suspended for seven games for elbowing James Harden in the head back in 2012.
A 14-year veteran, World Peace's career included previous stops with the Bulls, Pacers, Kings and Rockets.
The Lakers were one of six teams
to pay the luxury tax last season and their bill reportedly exceeded $29 million
. The NBA is instituting a new, harsher luxury tax system in 2013-14 that includes escalating penalties for teams that vastly exceed the luxury tax line.