Metta World Peace sounded chatty and in a relaxed mood, the product of his surgically repaired left knee healing, promoting a children’s book and feeling refreshed from an otherwise disappointing season.
Even with uncertainty lingering in the air about his Lakers future, World Peace has avoided worrying about it by doing one thing. He has and will continue to defer to his agent, Marc Cornstein, on whether or not he should exercise or opt out of his $7.7 million player option.
“I don’t want to think off emotions. I hired my agent for a reason so I’ll let him and the Lakers do their job to try to keep me a Laker for long term,” World Peace said Tuesday in a phone interview with this newspaper. “Rather than stress myself out and worry about what’s going on for the Lakers, I’ll let them do their job. Then they can get back to me.”
Cornstein recently told this newspaper considering World Peace’s options remain “premature” since he has until June 25 to decide what he will do. But one source familiar with World Peace’s thought process adamantly believed he will exercise his option to stay for the 2013-14 season.
Either decision carries a some 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 to a long-term deal even at a less expensive rate in hopes to maximize cap flexibility in the 2014 offseason. Should he resign with the team, only Howard and Nash would be under contract beyond next season.
How difficult has it become to weigh such scenarios?
“It’s not really a challenge,” World Peace said. “Given the situation I’m in, I’ve given a lot to get to this point. I’m still active. The main thing is I’m still an NBA player. It hasn’t been a challenge. The Lakers have more of a challenge. They have some decisions to make. It’s a very well run organization so they’ll make the best decision for the Lakers.”
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 World Peace became hobbled because of a lateral meniscus tear that required surgery. He missed only six games as opposed to the rest of the season as the Lakers expected. But World Peace only averaged seven points on 30.5 percent shooting in the ensuing eight games. He also sat out of the Lakers’ Game 4 first-round loss to the San Antonio Spurs after admittedly rushing back too early in hopes to help secure a playoff berth.
“It’s getting better,” World Peace said. “It was getting sore for a while. I tried to get back to get a championship, but it didn’t happen. It was already healed, but I just had to rest.”
After mixing in workouts with vacation time, World Peace plans to ramp up what he called his own “training camp” beginning June 15. World Peace plans condition himself so he maintains last season’s playing weight at 245 pounds at 6 percent body fat. In the 2011-12 season, World Peace arrived weighing in the high 260-pound range at 13 percent body fat and appeared noticeably slower.
“I was at a comfortable weight last year with my moving and I felt really healthy,” World Peace said. “I want to come in the same way, maybe even better to build some synergy. If I came in the same way I did last year and everybody comes back better, we’ll be a really tough.”
But it remains to be seen whether the Lakers will keep that same roster, including World Peace.
“Whatever the Lakers and my agent feel best, that’s what I’m going to do,” World Peace said. “It’s not about me. I’m not making the decision based on me. I’ll let the Lakers and my agent make the decision for me.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at email@example.com