Although he reiterated time and again his choice to remain a Laker, Metta World Peace stayed non-committal on whether he will exercise his $7.7 million player option to return next season.
“It’s really not important to me right now,” World Peace said. “What’s important is next year coming back and starting off the right way and building some consistency early. That’s the only thing on my mind right now. Not contracts or anything like that.”
World Peace isn’t necessarily sending out conflicting messages. Marc Cornstein, World Peace’s agent, told this newspaper that he could opt out in hopes of seeking a long-term extension. Either decision carries a certain amount of risk. Should World Peace exercise his player option, the Lakers could waive him using the one-time amnesty provision in hopes of clearing space within their current $100 million payroll. Should World Peace opt out, there’s a chance the Lakers wouldn’t resign him for the same reason.
But World Peace said he didn’t discuss those scenarios with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak.
“I didn’t talk about that,” World Peace said. “I was more talking about next year, things that went on this year and what could’ve gone differently, coming back next year winning and doing the things to win the right now.”
World Peace has averaged 12.8 points on 40.5 percent shooting, his highest scoring output with the Lakers, and has appeared in better shape than in recent seasons. But at age 33, it remains unclear whether he’d attract much interest in the open market.
“I told my agent don’t call me about it,” World Peace said. “Just do what you have to do. I want to focus on next year. I don’t want to get sidetracked. This year has been pretty tough for the organization, coaches, players and fans. So we have to do everything in our power individually not to let this happen again. So we can win. We have the players to win. We just have to get it done.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org