When it takes a Kobe baseline jumper and a five-second violation for the Lakers to pull out a last-minute victory against the Raptors, you know things aren’t going well for the Lakers.
Kobe, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum are playing really good ball, but past that the team is playing pretty poorly. Their fourth highest paid player is Metta World Peace and he is having by far his worst season in the league. CBS Sports’ Ken Berger spent some time with the Lakers last week and writes that head coach Mike Brown and the artist formerly known as Ron Artest are having some problems adjusting to one another.
“I’m trying to win,” World Peace said. “And right now, coach is a stats guy. His background is video coordinator or whatever. So he’s all stats. But Ron Artest is all feel. He doesn’t understand that. Having me in the game at the end, he was worried about me shooting bad from the free throw line. And I was like, ‘I could care less because I’m gonna get a stop at the end of the game.’ He didn’t understand the rhythm that we had — me, Fish [Derek Fisher], Kobe [Bryant], Pau [Gasol] and Drew [Andrew Bynum]. I’ve been through games where I would have two points, go 1 for 9 and we’d win. That’s what matters. Stats are for people who need stats.”
Metta can say what he wants, but he has been awful this year. He’s averaging 4.7 points and 2.6 rebounds per game and has a PER of 6.05. A guy who is making close to $7 million this season should probably have a PER at least double the 6.05 Metta is pulling in. His defense has not fallen off nearly as sharply as his offense has, but he is certainly not the defender he used to be. If you ask World Peace, he thinks the work he did against Paul Pierce recently is a perfect example of why he should be playing more.
“If I could count how many times another team went away from the best player when I was on him, I’ve got to be like No. 1 in the league,” World Peace said. “That’s not a stat, and coach doesn’t … you would have to play basketball to feel that. When Phil Jackson was here, that’s why I was in the game, because he understands that. Philly and Utah, I was on the bench because of stats.”
The Lakers are 16-12 overall and 5-10 on the road. They have the worst point guard play in the league and very little depth elsewhere. What remains to be seen is whether Mike Brown and Metta World Peace, who have known each other since Brown was an assistant in Indiana, can sit down and figure out the best way to use Metta, who isn’t going anywhere at least this season.