Metta World Peace was released by the Los Angeles Lakers under the amnesty clause on Thursday, the team announced. Lakers P.R. released a statement from General Manager Mitch Kupchak regarding World Peace’s release:
"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. For anyone who’s had the opportunity to get to know him, it’s impossible not to love him,” said Kupchak
“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 tweeted that Kupchak contacted him prior to releasing the news and thanked him for doing so.
If World Peace clears waivers, which is likely, he will control his own destiny. However, he would not be eligible to re-sign with the Lakers for a full season.
News of World Peace’s impending departure originally first took flight via Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register, who stated that the New York native would be released barring an unforeseen U-turn by the organization earlier in the week.
Sam Amick of USA Today reported that World Peace’s top destination, should he be amnestied, was the New York Knicks. The artist formerly known as Ron Artest grew up a Knicks fan in Queenbridge, a rough neighborhood in Queens, New York.
After the Knicks, World Peace’s preferred destinations were the Los Angeles Clippers, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, and Indiana Pacers (in order). Considering the caliber of teams on the list, World Peace is clearly interested in joining a contender.
Sixteen seasons ago, World Peace entered the league with the Chicago Bulls before moving on to the Indiana Pacers. No doubt, his previous experience in both those cities plays into his decision to include those teams on the list.
Notably, World Peace did not include the Houston Rockets on his list despite also playing there. Likely, his personal elbow history with James Harden and the recent bitter departure of Dwight Howard made the Rockets a less than ideal landing spot.
Lakers fans were heart broken by the news that he would likely be amnestied when it first hit the social media newswires, and the outpour of support and respect was in sharp contrast to the reaction Howard received for leaving.
Regardless of where World Peace lands, he will likely earn a loud ovation when he returns to Staples Center during the 2013-14 season. Media members (including me) will miss hearing Metta's unique responses to questions and his friendly interactions with reporters. World Peace was not always accurate in everything he said--far from it--but he never failed to provide a quote that resulted in a head scratching smile.
Best of luck, Metta; and thank you for Game 7.