The Los Angeles Lakers Should Hang On to Metta World Peace

LOS ANGELES — On Sep. 24, the Los Angeles Lakers signed Metta World Peace to a non-guaranteed contract. This was a perplexing decision; on the surface, both parties are headed in opposite directions, and it doesn’t make sense for a struggling team to take a flier on a known commodity whose prime ended seven or eight years ago.

On the other hand, World Peace has had moments throughout this preseason where he looks like someone who can actually help the Lakers win basketball games. Even at 35 years old, he’s arguably their best perimeter defender—those hands are as swift and deliberate as ever—with a relatively reliable outside shot and high basketball IQ. All of this allows head coach Byron Scott to trust World Peace when he's on the floor.

“He’s been about what I thought,” Scott said at a recent Lakers practice. “Steady. Tough. You know, one of those guys that’s gonna guard people. He brings a physical presence to the game, as well. He’s been everything that I expected.”

Throw in his unquantifiable influence as a noted postseason samurai within a locker room that has several players who don’t yet know “what it takes” to win or how to prepare on a nightly basis at the highest level, and you can sort of understand why the Lakers decided to include World Peace in the fold.

Before Monday’s win over the Portland Trail Blazers, Scott cited L.A.'s second-oldest player as a key mentor for the team’s younger small and power forwards. And from a public relations perspective, bringing back a familiar face who shined during the organization’s recent glory days may charm L.A.’s suffering fan base.

But World Peace’s seniority can hurt as much as it helps. The Lakers won 21 games last season, and this year’s roster (somewhat) reflects a desire to start over. D’Angelo Russell and ...

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