Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace prepared his Twitter followers for a bombshell on Monday evening:
I had a great time here in LA!! Love you guys.. You are truly amazing. I have some news!!!
— Metta World Peace (@MettaWorldPeace) June 25, 2013
The past-tense "had," combined with Tuesday marking the deadline for World Peace to decide whether to exercise the early termination option in his contract, led many to speculate that the 33-year-old wing would be forgoing the final year of his deal with the Lakers to enter unrestricted free agency come July 1. Metta promised we'd learn more at 12 p.m. Tuesday on the East Coast and 9 a.m. Tuesday out West, and then offered this announcement:
OK, so ... wait, what?
On one hand, relative to all things MWP, making a TV show with a 40-year-old Hall of Fame receiver who can't catch on in the NFL anymore makes about as much sense as anything else. Plus, they've both got reality show experience, which would be helpful in crafting compelling storylines that keep audiences enthralled. Also, they have so much in common — a love of physical fitness, a love of doing TV weather forecasts, a love of being talked about, you name it.
On the other, though, it's hard to envision anyone caring about the combined hijinks of MWP and T.O. for any purpose other than blog post jokes or "The Soup" jokes. If ever actually produced and, by some miracle, picked up by a television network, this would almost certainly struggle toward abysmal ratings and quick, merciful cancellation. So, obviously, we'd love to see it. (Remember that part about "blog post jokes?")
Alas, the Untitled Peace/Owens Project will never see the light of day because, as Metta informed us Tuesday afternoon, it never actually existed:
Guess what's even more funny!! Me and TO are not even working on a show! Lol It would be a great show , but.....
— Metta World Peace (@MettaWorldPeace) June 25, 2013
Killer gooves, Metta. You nailed us.
Needless to say, the former Ron Artest was pretty impressed with how cunningly and successfully he tricked Lakers fans into thinking he was leaving, writing since-deleted tweets (for shame, Metta) asking why so many people thought he was opting out ("Was I that suspenseful? I must be a great actor! No a flopper, but a great twactor!!") and congratulating himself being so proficient at Twitter jokes that many of his friends believed his jokes/lies ("I'm too good on this thing").
While Metta daydreams of a Twitter all his own where he can be challenged by equally shrewd individuals every time he tries to pull a killer prank, we'll just focus on the actual on-court element of interest here — according to Sam Amick of USA TODAY Sports, World Peace isn't going anywhere:
According to a person with knowledge of the situation, the veteran small forward will play out the final year of his contract (worth $7.7 million) rather than exercise the early termination option on his deal. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because the decision had not yet been made public.
World Peace had until Tuesday to make his decision, and the lack of clarity that surrounded him in Laker Land made his process all the more problematic. Lakers center and free-agent-to-be Dwight Howard has still not indicated whether he will re-sign or head elsewhere, and World Peace had considered opting out in order to become a free agent rather than take part in these unstable Lakers times.
But while signs remain that Howard may be heading to the Houston Rockets, World Peace is better off opting for the security that comes with the final year of his deal rather than opting out.
Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times notes that the decision won't be made official until midnight, but does confirm that World Peace has informed the Lakers of his intent to stick around.
The next issue, then, is whether the Lakers — who already have nearly $80 million in salary on the books for 2013-14 before inking a new deal for free-agent center Dwight Howard — will elect to use the collective bargaining agreement's amnesty provision to clear from their balance sheet the $7.7 million owed to World Peace in the final season of the five-year, $34 million contract he signed in the summer of 2009. Doing so wouldn't get Los Angeles under the luxury tax line or anywhere near the salary cap, but considering the steep penalties teams pay for exceeding the luxury tax under the new CBA, jettisoning World Peace's salary would save the Lakers "some $30 million in salary and taxes," according to cap guru Larry Coon.
Then again, the Lakers would still have to pay World Peace the remaining $7.7 million — the amnesty removes that amount from a team's cap figure, but not their obligation to pay out the balance of the contract — and would also have to replace his minutes and contributions on the court. Considering the fact that even a step-or-two-slow World Peace still ranked among L.A.'s best defenders last year — which, admittedly, isn't saying a ton — that may be easier said than done with no cap space and limited avenues with which to make roster improvements as a result of being so far over the cap.
Mitch Kupchak and company could still elect to amnesty World Peace, but for the moment, it looks like Metta's sticking around Hollywood. It's the perfect place to be if you're interested in pulling off monster pranks on network executives looking for athlete-based unscripted programming to bolster their fall lineups.
Hat-tip to Trey Kerby at The Basketball Jones.