The Lakers prioritized defense and mentorship over scoring and potential in their last round of roster cuts entering the 2015-16 season.
Metta World Peace will stay with the Lakers, a second-chance to revitalize his NBA career, pair up again with Kobe Bryant and spark nostalgia for his role in the franchise’s championship run in 2010. But the move came at the expense of 22-year-old Jabari Brown, the second-year guard facing his second consecutive roster cut with the Lakers despite showing intrigue with his athleticism and scoring.
Each scenario had its pros and cons, and is something that left Lakers coach Byron Scott deliberating about the decision even after Sunday’s practice.
World Peace could revamp the Lakers’ defense, mentor second-year forward Julius Randle and excite the Lakers’ fan base with his amusing quotes and constant reminder of the franchise’s once pleasant past.
But World Peace has not played in the NBA since the Knicks waived him in 2013. He also averaged 3.6 points on 27.7 percent shooting and two rebounds in 12 minutes through seven exhibition games, a far cry from his NBA career averages of 13.8 points on 41.7 percent shooting and 4.7 rebounds in 33 minutes per contest. Yet, the 35-year-old World Peace has not had any other injuries since missing three practices and the Lakers’ preseason opener because of soreness in his left calf.
Brown averaged 6.0 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 0.8 assists in 14.3 minutes per game through six preseason appearances. The Lakers have liked Brown’s improvement with his aggressiveness ever since they waived him at last year’s training camp. Brown posted league-leading 24.4 points per game with the Lakers’ Development League affiliate, the D-Fenders.
The Lakers then signed Brown to two 10-day contracts and averaged 11.9 points, 2.1 assists, and 1.9 rebounds in 29.9 minutes per contest. But Scott has said he wanted to see more from Brown on defense. It also did not help Brown would fight for minutes in a crowded backcourt featuring Kobe Bryant, D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Marcelo Huertas and Lou Williams.
World Peace has a non-guaranteed contract worth $1.5 million, which will not be secure until Jan. 10, 2016. Brown had a non-guaranteed deal worth $845,059. If no NBA team signs Brown before he clears waivers, he will look to play overseas instead of playing in the D-League, according to a league source familiar with his thinking.