Former Los Angeles Lakers and current New York Knicks forward Metta World Peace appears to have confidence in his old team by selecting the Lakers to make the NBA Finals this upcoming season, according to Mike Mazzeo of ESPNNewYork.com.
The Lakers have gone through much roster change this offseason, which includes the team using their amnesty clause on World Peace, the departure of Dwight Howard to the Houston Rockets, and the addition of several free agents in Chris Kaman, Nick Young, Wesley Johnson and Jordan Farmar.
This is also not to forget the unknown surrounding the team’s aging core players with Kobe Bryant returning from Achilles surgery, Pau Gasol rehabbing from surgery on both knees to treat his tendonitis, and Steve Nash who is still not 100% recovered from the hip, hamstring and leg injuries he suffered last season.
World Peace’s prediction that the Lakers will be Western Conference champions is a bold choice compared to what the vast majority of the media that has chosen the Lakers making the playoffs as the seventh or eighth seed and with ESPN in August releasing their NBA rankings for this upcoming season that placed Los Angeles as the 12th best team in the Western conference, it still did not deter him in his selection of the Lakers.
“I think the Lakers are going to go to the NBA Finals,” World Peace said on Wednesday at the signing for his children’s book “Metta’s Bedtime Stories” in downtown Manhattan.
“I think Kobe [Bryant’s] gonna be healthy, they’re gonna get Pau [Gasol]. The Lakers are gonna make a big trade like they always do. They’re gonna get another good player, boom, boom, and they’re gonna go to the Finals. I believe it. Kobe’s gonna come back, he’s gonna play team ball, and Pau’s gonna play well.”
The 14-year veteran also talked about his role with the Knicks this upcoming season and he is accepting to take a bench role if it gives the team a better shot at a championship, which is something he tried a few times as a Laker.
“I mean, I came off the bench when I was in Houston, they tried it. I had to start later because I had to get us out of the first round. And then I came off the bench when I was in L.A. and they tried it and then I had to start,” he said. “So I don’t have an issue with coming off the bench. I’ve been starting for 15 years, so hey, it should be somebody else’s chance to start.
“I’ve been starting for 15 years. I could’ve went to any other team I wanted to and started. I got calls from Oklahoma (City) and the Clippers, all these teams, but I came here and it wasn’t to start, it was to win a ring.”
World Peace stated that he learned to have this mentality from his former coach Phil Jackson.
“Those types of [championship] questions are answered in June,” World Peace said. “I learned that from Phil Jackson. just going through that journey with Phil, I kind of know the journey, and in New York everything happens so fast and happens now. That’s one of the reasons I went to St. John’s, where I realized when you prepare you’ll be OK.”
He also discussed that he has not yet spoken to former teammate and longtime friend Lamar Odom,who is currently going through some very public personal issues this offseason.
“I’ve been reaching out. I need to speak to Lamar,” World Peace said. “That’s one thing I can’t [comment on] until I speak to him personally. I don’t even know what to say. Shocking headlines. But I need to speak with him.”
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