Even with Kobe Bryant ending a storied 20-year NBA career, the Lakers have kept another player connected to their successful past.
Veteran forward Metta World Peace will join the Lakers for training camp. The Lakers would not confirm the agreement, but a league source familiar with the situation said World Peace will return on a one-year, non-guaranteed deal.
After serving as mostly a mentor toward the Lakers’ young roster and playing occasional minutes, the 36-year-old World Peace will be expected to fill the same role.
Last year, World Peace attempted striking a balance between supporting former Lakers coach Byron Scott and providing positive reinforcement for the team’s young players, most notably power forward Julius Randle. World Peace also never lamented his declining role, which entailed averaged 5.0 points on 31.1 percent shooting and 2.5 rebounds in 16.9 minutes through 35 games.
Whether World Peace stays on the roster through the entire 2016-17 season remains another question. The Lakers must trim their current 19-player roster to 15 before the regular season starts in late October. The Lakers could put more value this year on investing in a younger roster than retaining a veteran player that’s not expected to provide significant minutes. Still, World Peace could become an extra conduit for Lakers coach Luke Walton, who were former teammates from 2009 through 2012 and won an NBA title together in 2010.
Although World Peace has expressed an interest in coaching, he believes he can play 20 NBA seasons. He has played 17 years in the NBA and played professionally overseas in Italy and China during the 2014-15 season. World Peace has averaged 13.5 points on 41.5 percent shooting and 4.6 rebounds through his NBA career. Despite his averaging single digits in his previous two seasons in New York and the Lakers, World Peace has drawn praise for his conditioning.