Weighing pros and cons of Metta World Peace’s player option

The sentimentality spilled out in 140-character tweets.

First, Metta World Peace suggested he may say goodbye.

Second, World Peace plugged his website.

 

And lastly, World Peace sent out an unspecified invitation seemingly to everyone.

 

Yup, this captures World Peace pretty well in a nutshell. He’s spontaneous, generous and always keeps everyone guessing. But it’s safe to presume World Peace is referring to what he will do with his $7.7 million player option considering he has until tomorrow to decide what to do. Will World Peace exercise his $7.7 million player option to leave him under contract with the Lakers for the 2013-14 season? Or will World Peace opt out in hopes of securing a longer albeit possibly less lucrative deal to stay with the purple and gold?

I’ve been told from someone close to World Peace that he’s likely to exercise his player option. But either case presents a fair amount of pros and cons in his hopes to stay with the Lakers. Below the jump, I take a look at the variables World Peace has to consider

Why World Peace should exercise his player option:The Lakers have maintained that their main offseason priority outside of re-signing Dwight Howard involves maintaining cap flexibility for the 2014 offseason. They want to do this for two reasons. One, more punitive measures for teams over the luxury tax threshold kick in next season. Such spending teams can’t perform sign-and-trades, won’t have a bi-annual exception and would have a much smaller mid-level exception (three years worth $3 million a season as opposed to four years at $5 million a season). The Lakers also want to keep cap flexibility so they’re in the best position to pursue possible high profile free agents, including LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, John Wall, Paul George, among others. Even if World Peace were to takes a paycut with a multi-year deal, the Lakers would become in a worse spot financially since more players beyond Steve Nash (and if Howard returns) would remain on the books past next season. Because of that dynamic, it’s strongly possible the Lakers would just let him walk.

World Peace would still remain in limbo by exercising his player option. That’s because he’d become a candidate the Lakers could waive using the one-time amnesty provision. But there’s a few scenarios that could play out in World Peace’s favor. One, the Lakers would still owe $7.7 million in salary to World Peace either in its entirety or subtracted by the difference from a team that would pick him up on waivers. Two, the Lakers could decide not to use the amnesty on World Peace, or any player for that matter. Ridding themselves of World Peace would save the Lakers $30 million in luxury taxes, something that wouldn’t even come close to getting them under the luxury tax threshold. Therefore, the Lakers couldn’t use that money saved to sign a high-priced free agent. Considering their aging roster, diminished resources and inconsistent defense, they may be better off just keeping him for one more year.

Why World Peace should opt out of his contract: He may have to take less money. But World Peace could still stay with the Lakers if he’s willing to accept a one-year deal and then play well enough for the Lakers to consider resigning him next offseason. Such a move could help the Lakers trim some of their luxury taxes this season without seriously compromising their roster.

If that reality doesn’t work out, World Peace would have more control on where he stays and how much money he would make. It’s unclear how much he would command in the open market given his age, recent knee injury and inconsistent shooting. But plenty of championship caliber teams, such as the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City, would value his defense and championship experience. If he were to join any teams after being waived through amnesty clause, however, World Peace would have no say in his pay. World Peace would go to whoever the highest bidder is, which could be severely less than what he’d make on the open market.

Verdict: It’s best for World Peace to opt in. It’s more important for the Lakers to have as many players off the books by next season than it is to trim costs this season since any move outside of waiving Kobe Bryant won’t get them under the luxury tax. So it’s possible the Lakers could keep World Peace. Even if that doesn’t happen, it’s not a bad consolation prize to still get paid a full salary even if he doesn’t join another team. That’s unlikely to happen if he opts out of his current contract.

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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