LAS VEGAS (CBSNewYork) – After being amnestied by the Los Angeles Lakers last week, the 11 teams that were under the salary cap have passed on the opportunity to sign Metta World Peace, giving the New York Knicks the chance to make a bid.
The Knicks, who are stationed in Las Vegas for summer league play, have expressed interest in the 33-year-old and are working to set up a meeting between the two parties, according to the New York Post. However, World Peace told the paper that he was taking a trip to Las Vegas to “watch Floyd Mayweather train.”
Head coach Mike Woodson is taking the situation a bit more seriously, and has expressed his interest on bringing the Queens native aboard his roster.
“I like his skill set a lot,” Woodson told reporters. “A lot of teams liked his skill set over the years. He does a little bit of everything.”
When asked if Woodson would be able to handle the temperamental World Peace, the head coach expressed confidence that he could control the 6-foot-7 forward.
“I can coach any player,” Woodson said. “I’ve coached guys from 18 years old and built a team in Atlanta. That’s tough for a first-time coach. I don’t think there’s a player who I can’t coach if he’s willing to be coached. It’s a matter of pushing the right buttons. If anybody comes to this team, they’ve got to understand it’s all about team and not about individuals here. It’s about the New York franchise trying to win an NBA title.”
The Knicks, who have been relatively quiet this offseason regarding free-agent signing, currently have $1.7 million left on their mid-level exception, and World Peace would reportedly be seeking a veterans minimum contract of $1.4 million. The stars seem to be lining up, and no one has their fingers crossed tighter than World Peace’s father, Ron Artest Sr.
“I’m hoping he comes home,” Artest Sr. told the New York Post on Sunday night. “It’s New York. It’s home. He wanted to play here for a very long time. He doesn’t have to win a championship here but playing for the Knicks, that’s good enough for me.”
Speculation has risen that the former St. John’s star is considering playing for the Los Angeles Clippers or for an organization in China.
“I want to do something unique and fun,” the first-round draft pick told Yahoo! Sports. “China has over a billion people. It’s fun. I want to be adventurous. I’ve been thinking about it.”
But World Peace’s New York-based agent, Doug Davis, indirectly told Knicks fans to keep their heads up.
“There’s no reason not to consider New York if there’s strong interest,” Davis told the New York Post. “We’re not rushing it. We want him to make a smart decision and take all the options in consideration and do what’s best for him. He’s very excited he’s in position to choose his own destiny.”
The Knicks “look to be the favorites,” the Post reported, citing a source.
But would the addition of World Peace throw off the feng shui of the new-look Knicks? Woodson doesn’t seem to think that moving players around various positions would be a problem.
“We could — it could be different this year,” Woodson said. “Bargnani brings a different dimension to our team. He can do a little bit of everything. I got to get him up to speed defensively. Just like Melo (Anthony) is a nightmare for people at the four, (Bargnani’s) a nightmare for players at the four and five. I’ve got to get him acclimated and comfortable and feeling good about himself.”
But the final decision will be up to former Defensive Player of the Year. Whether it’s retirement, China or the Knicks, all eyes are on World Peace. He surely loves the attention.
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