The Knicks have agreed to sign free-agent forward Metta World Peace to a two-year, $3.2 million contract, according to Yahoo! Sports and CBSSports.com. The deal reportedly includes a player option for the second season, and Newsday reports that the Knicks used a portion of their mini mid-level exception to ink World Peace.
World Peace, who was released by the Lakers last week using the amnesty clause, was not claimed during the blind bidding process that follows every amnesty release.
"I want to do things that's hard," World Peace said, according to CBSSports.com. "That's the challenged of being challenged. We all know [New York is] the hardest place to win. Since , right? '73. '72-'73 [when the Knicks last won the title]. Why not take on something that's hard?”
The 14-year veteran averaged 12.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game last season. World Peace was set to earn $7.7 million in 2013-14; the Lakers will still owe him that salary, but it will be removed from their books for salary-cap and luxury-tax purposes. To replace World Peace, the Lakers signed Nick Young and Wesley Johnson to minimum deals.
A New York City native who played his college ball at St. Johns, World Peace returns to the Big Apple for the first time in a pro career that has included stops with the Bulls, Pacers, Kings, Rockets and Lakers. In Los Angeles, he won a title in 2010, won the NBA's J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award and legally changed his name from Ron Artest.
At 33, World Peace is still a useful, physical perimeter defender, and he's yet another veteran with extensive playoff experience to add to the Knicks' mix. His arrival will force coach Mike Woodson to make some lineup choices: World Peace could theoretically start next to Carmelo Anthony in a small-ball lineup or be used as a reserve defender to pair alongside Sixth Man Award winner J.R. Smith. It's possible that World Peace's maximum impact could be in a reserve role, given the presence of Amar'e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani, two forwards not known for their defense. Come playoff time, World Peace could make for a nice defensive pairing alongside shooting guard Iman Shumpert. GRADE: A-. This is a no-brainer move for the Knicks, who are playing the same summer game as the Nets, Heat and other capped-out teams in looking to fill out their rotations with bargain veterans so as to minimize their luxury-tax bill. World Peace can still defend, rebound, make headlines with his antics and drive you crazy with inconsistent three-point shooting. While not worth what the $7-plus-million that Lakers were paying him, he should be able to outplay the terms of this contract fairly easily. If there's a question here, it centers on the potential for volatility in a locker room that already includes the mercurial Smith, but the Knicks seem to have no hesitation playing with fire. Get your "Say Queensbridge!" signs ready, Manhattan.