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Metta World Peace wants to stay and win with the Lakers

April 29, 2013|By Eric Pincus
  • Lakers forward Metta World Peace lines up a wide-open shot as big men Dwight Howard, left, and Pau Gasol, right, are closely guarded in Game 1 of their playoff series against San Antonio.
Lakers forward Metta World Peace lines up a wide-open shot as big men Dwight… (Ronald Martinez / Getty…)

Metta World Peace gave his exit interview Monday after the Lakers wrapped their regular season on Sunday in a sweep to the San Antonio Spurs.

Does he expect to be back with the Lakers next season?

"When you lose with a team, you want to win with that team," World Peace said. "The only thing on my mind is winning and winning here."

World Peace has an early-termination option on the final year of his $7.7-million contract. If he doesn't opt out, the Lakers might consider using their one-time amnesty on World Peace, which could help reduce the team's luxury tax bill next season.

The veteran forward has hinted in the past that he might opt out if the Lakers were willing to give him a new multi-year contract (at a lesser amount each season).

On Monday, World Peace didn't want to talk about his contract.

"That's really not important to me right now," he said. "What's important is next year, coming back and starting off the right way."

Of course if he's amnestied or opts out, contract status would certainly be significant in where he plays.

"I told my agent don't call me about it," World Peace said. "Just do what you got to do. I just want to focus on next year. I don't want to get sidetracked. This year has been tough for the organization, coaches, players, fans — we have to do everything in our power individually to not let this happen again."

The former defensive player of the year believes the Lakers have the pieces to win but said injuries were a problem all season.

"It just happened and you couldn't control it," he said. "It's unfortunate, but there were other things we could have done to be a two seed, a one seed."

"I think we put a little too much pressure on Dwight [Howard]," World Peace continued. "Coach [Mike] D'Antoni is a really good coach, but sometimes we didn't let him coach."

D'Antoni joined the team early in the season after the firing of Mike Brown. Although the team struggled initially, the Lakers won 28 of their final 40 games.

World Peace said the team could have listened more to their coach.

"That means giving him a chance and respecting his decisions," said World Peace. "I think we were the fourth-best team since the All-Star break ... if I'm not mistaken. Obviously the guy can coach and obviously the players can play. I just thought there were times we didn't let each other do their job."

The Lakers have said they expect D'Antoni, who is under contract, back next season. The verdict on World Peace is hazier given his opt-out and the potential for amnesty.

The termination option will be decided before July. The window for amnesty is July 10-16.

ALSO:

Via Twitter, Dwight Howard apologizes for ejection

Mike D'Antoni proud of team, despite 'doomed' season

Andrew Goudelock put up big numbers in Lakers' loss to Spurs

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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