Metta World Peace could be taking his show on the road.
Always primed for a great sound bite, the baller formerly known as Ron Artest spoke to ESPN Los Angeles regarding his career options after being amnestied by the Los Angeles Lakers. Still only 33 years old, the tenacious defender and legitimate No. 3 or 4 scoring option for a team has no shortage of suitors for his services.
Both in the NBA and in China – and right now World Peace may just be thinking about taking the message of his new last name overseas.
“I don’t really want to play for anybody,” World Peace said Friday at the Lakers’ practice facility. “I don’t want to go anywhere. I want to go to China, or coach or play arena football.”
Oh yes, and did we mention he may be leaning towards strapping on some shoulder pads? At 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds, the guy probably could have played in the NFL had he chosen to take that career path when he was younger.
As things stand, however, World Peace is a basketball player. The concept of going to China is not nearly as foreign (pun intended) as playing Arena League football.
World Peace said he has spoken to Yao Ming about joining his former Houston Rockets teammate’s Chinese team, the Shanghai Sharks. He said he’s had conversations with representatives from “a couple other teams” in China, as well.
World Peace recently completed a trip to Beijing and Qingdao, which further fueled his idea of playing in China should he be amnestied. A league source told ESPNLosAngeles.com that World Peace has explored the option of playing in China through conversations with former NBA players who have made the leap, figuring out if the path blazed by the likes of Stephon Marbury, Steve Francis and Gilbert Arenas would be right for him.
“You don’t live twice,” World Peace said. “You’re not 33 twice. You won’t be able to play in China at a good level again. I wouldn’t be able to play in China again averaging, maybe, 40 or more points. That would be fun.”
He’s right, it would definitely be fun. However, it would not be nearly as lucrative as remaining Stateside and collecting the $7.7 million he is still owed by the Lakers.
When a player is amnestied, the team is still on the hook for that man’s salary, it just does not count against the official salary cap. His rights are currently on the waiver wire. Should a team make a claim for him and he fails to report (heading to China or the Arena League instead, for example) Los Angeles does not have to pay him a dime.
That’s a lot of cash to turn down just to be a big-time scorer in Beijing.
But then again, this is the same guy who changed his name to Metta World Peace. Anything is possible.
[H/T: CBS Sports]