NBA @ 2: World Peace Researching Retirement
As the trade deadline nears, the Los Angeles Lakers continue to explore moves that can either help them in the short-term, without giving up power forward Pau Gasol, or a bigger move that lands a long-term solution at point guard while better situating the team for the upcoming supertax as instituted by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The answer has yet to be decided but in the meantime, Lakers forward Metta World Peace has asked the NBA Player Association for instructions on how to file retirement papers.
According to his agent David Bauman, Metta intends to finish out his contract (two remaining years at $7.3 million and $7.7 million, the latter an early-termination option for Peace) but is preparing for the possibility that the Lakers amnesty him this coming summer.
Retirement would essentially be a threat to dissuade a team with cap room that might have designs on putting an amnesty claim in for Peace.
Peace might prefer time off or even playing overseas rather than getting claimed by a team outside of his comfort zone.
Back towards the end of the offseason, Los Angeles Clippers guard Chauncey Billups toyed with that same notion when he was waived by the New York Knicks. Billups initially threatened retirement but the Clippers took a chance, eventually winning over Chauncey before he went down with season-ending Achilles’ injury.
Metta wants to control his own destiny as much as possible. Retirement would cost him $15 million in salary. It remains to be seen if that’s the kind of money Peace would leave on the table.
To date, Peace has finally begun to overcome a very slow start. With improved conditioning, has his performance and impact has grown for the Lakers who are dominant home team but still extremely shaky on the road.
The future is unclear as to how the Lakers proceed with the March 15th trade deadline. Peace, given his multi-year deal and 15% trade kicker, isn’t widely expected to be dealt.
As the team builds for the future, the Amnesty Clause may make this Metta’s final season with the squad whether that leads to retirement or not.
To keep up with the rumors, HOOPSWORLD has put up its annual Trade Deadline Diary, where the latest scenarios will be posted as they surface. Steve Kyler, Bill Ingram and Alex Kennedy have Laker related entries on Tuesday, discussing Pau Gasol, Kyle Lowry, Ramon Sessions and Raymond Felton (among others).
Celtics Thin, Thin Up Front
The Boston Celtics are struggling to man a front court with the recent news that Chris Wilcox is undergoing serious cardiac tests.
“He’s going to do a test tomorrow or the next day,” said Coach Doc Rivers. “He’s going to the Cleveland clinic I assume because that’s where everyone goes for everything and we just don’t know. Obviously, it’s not a good situation, we know that, but we’re just hoping for the best.”
Additionally Jermaine O’Neal is struggling with a wrist injury. The buzz around the team is that Jermaine may not come back, ever. If he misses the rest of the season, O’Neal may retire after 16 seasons.
That puts Kevin Garnett at center next to forward Brandon Bass, along with sizable time for rookie Greg Stiemsma (and spot minutes for fellow rookie JaJuan Johnson).
Perhaps their ticket to quality size would be dealing Rajon Rondo but President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge told CSNNE.com flat out, “Rondo’s not being traded.”
While there’s interest in the Lakers’ Pau Gasol, there’s conflicting info as to who is more reluctant to make a straight-up deal and why. Typical to these situations, the full truth doesn’t come out until a number of months after the fact.
Meanwhile Rivers is looking to find the balance between managing the minutes of his older players over a heavy lockout-shortened schedule and preventing burn-out by the postseason.
“We understand with all the injuries we have this has been tough but we just feel like if we can get through this and get bodies back we’ll be okay,” said Rivers.
The Celtics may make a deal to add in help, possibly with O’Neal’s expiring contract and a draft pick as bait but equally Boston has designs on cap room this summer that may trump a fix unless it’s bringing in another player in the final year of his deal.
“I don’t worry about the trade deadline. It’s coming, there’s nothing I can do about that. I think our guys don’t worry about it a lot. They only get asked about it 15, 20, 30 times a day so that’s it but I think it bothers them all that much,” said Doc. “If you’re human it bothers you a little bit but I think a lot of the guys have been through it and fortunately as a coach I can’t wait until Friday.”
In the meantime, how do the Celtics get through the schedule without running out of gas by the time they get there?
“I don’t know. I’m not good enough to figure that one out, really,” said Rivers. “It’s a hard year, it just is. A lot of games but everybody’s in the same boat so it’s not just us.”
Doc is still optimistic about his team, currently 22-19 and seventh in the Eastern Conference and playing better over the past month despite the injuries. The goal would be climbing into the third or fourth seed by the postseason. Currently Boston just two games behind the fourth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers and 4 1/2 behind the Orlando Magic.
The Celtics have one more game before the trade deadline, visiting the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday. They’re currently through two stops through a lengthy eight-game road trip.
The Los Angeles Clippers knew they’d have a hard time getting over the Achilles’ injury to Chauncey Billups. Since Billups went down on February 6th, the team has gone just 8-10 after their impressive 15-7 start.
They’ve since fallen behind the Lakers in the Pacific Division and to fifth in the Western Conference.
“I think we should be better than that. I do,” said Coach Vinny Del Negro. “I think we should be better than that. I think we will but talking about it and not responding the right way is another thing. We have to play better and I expect us to and I think we are better than the way we’ve played lately and we’re going to need to do that if we want to have the type of season we expect.”
The Clippers started March with a difficult six-game road trip but their 3-3 record was respectable. The difficulty since would be the back-to-back home losses against the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics.
LA has struggled in late-game execution and has eyes on adding a guard to bolster the backcourt with a shooting guard.
HOOPSWORLD’s Alex Raskin detailed the dilemma for the Clippers on Monday and their reluctance to deal young point Eric Bledsoe for players who are on short-term contracts given the immediate future of Randy Foye, Mo Williams and Chauncey Billups is unclear as none are a true lock to return next season.
Some names linked to the Clippers are Courtney Lee, Ray Allen and Jamal Crawford. If LA were to give up “more” it’d be for Allen but the prospect of negotiating a salary this summer for Crawford is daunting for LA. The advantage to Lee is that he’s a restricted free agent this summer.
Clearly the Clippers are having a hard time. If management can’t get something done by the deadline, they may turn to the waiver wire with hopes that a veteran guard hits the market.
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