Metta World Peace, formerly Ron Artest, has landed a spot on the Los Angeles Lakers’ 15-man squad for the forthcoming NBA season.
World Peace, who won two championships with the Lakers during his four-year stint between 2009 and 2013, pipped second-year guard Jabari Brown for the final roster spot, when the Lakers announced the decision via press release on Monday.
Brown has been waived and is expected to take his talents overseas.
Byron Scott, the Lakers coach, called it a “very, very, very … difficult decision” to waive Brown and added that “It was probably the most difficult cut that I’ve ever had to make.”
Scott feels World Peace, one of the greatest perimeter defenders in league history, could play the role of mentor to youngsters. “I think Metta is the type of guy that can keep everybody together as well.”
World Peace was a picture of calm while speaking to reporters after the Lakers’ practice on Monday. “Some would say I would feel relief and joy, but it is a flat emotion because I’m focused on one thing,” said the 2004 Defensive Player of the Year. “My goals didn’t change. From the first day I signed my non-guaranteed contract, I wanted to come here and try to win a championship. My goals didn’t change, so there’s nothing to feel.”
World Peace, who spent a lot of time working with Julius Randle in the off season, played in China last year after playing for the New York Knicks in 2013-14. “It’s the first time I’ve ever been in a situation where I was non-guaranteed and fighting for a spot. But I don’t change as a person. I try to keep my beliefs intact and strong and enjoy the process of life.”
“The only thing I can say is it’s harder than people think,” added the veteran. “It wasn’t easy being a vet and trying to get back in the league. It was not easy. It was like working hard all over again. So I don’t want people to think that I just didn’t work and somehow got lucky.”
The Lakers begin their 2015-16 season against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.