*Audio of Metta World Peace's full exit interview
The Lakers will soon embark on a difficult challenge in which they weigh to what degree they upgrade their roster while also trimming payroll.
Metta World Peace hardly showed much concern as to whether he's part of that equation even though the Lakers have the option to cut his two-year, $15-million salary through the amnesty clause.
"That's something you'd have to ask them" World Peace said in his exit interview Tuesday at the Lakers' practice facility in El Segundo. "It's one day after the season. You'd have to ask them."
Instead he simply expressed gratitude toward the organization.
"The Lakers have done a lot for me," World Peace said. "I like it here, but whatever is good for the Lakers is good for me," World Peace . "The Lakers have done nothing but great things for me."
Earlier this season it appeared World Peace would be a likely candidate for amnesty, especially after arriving to training camp out of shape. But World Peace went on a tear in April, averaging 14 points per game and looking livelier on defense. Even after serving a seven-game suspension for elbowing James Harden, the Lakers forward averaged 11 points through six games in the postseason. World Peace also credited the Lakers' training staff for correcting a nerve issue in his back. During the lockout he had no access to the Lakers' training staff and facilities, and he was reluctant to seek independent treatment.
"I'm very confident, maybe cocky arrogant, the way I felt ending the season," World Peace said. "I feel like I can compete with anybody. Even when Kobe was out, I showed what type of player I was. That's time [when] I was just getting back in shape."
Under the new collective bargaining agreement, teams can use the amnesty clause to waive one player under contract and have the respective player's salary not count against the salary cap and luxury tax. The Times' Mike Bresnahan reported the Lakers have committed $78.4 million in payroll, including a $16.1-million team option for Andrew Bynum that will be exercised before the June 30 deadline.
Meanwhile, the luxury tax threshold for the 2012-13 season is guaranteed to be no less than $70.307 million, according to Larry Coon's Salary Cap FAQ. The Lakers would still have to pay any portion of World Peace's salary that isn't claimed by another team. NBA teams can use the clause only once from now through the 2015-16 season. Should the Lakers waive World Peace or any other player through the amnesty clause, they would have to do so within seven days after the July moratorium on trading and signing, which begins July 1-10.
"It's way early in the process," World Peace's agent, David Bauman, told The Times on Tuesday morning. "Given how poorly Ron had played early in the season, it was obvious it just was a question of weight. Once he lost 20 to 30 pounds and got himself back, he was the same old Ron again. If they do it, it would be based on the money and the [salary] cap."
Decisions loom on free agents, team options and player options
Andrew Bynum noncommittal about long-term extension [Web links]
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