The final chance NBA teams have to cut contracts that aren’t full guaranteed is officially January 10th, but as Bobby Marks of the Vertical notes, the effective deadline is January 7th at 5 p.m. ET because they have to allow 48-hours for the players to clear waivers.
The Los Angeles Lakers have two such players on their roster: forwards Thomas Robinson and Metta World Peace. While Robinson has earned a role in the Lakers’ rotation (in part due to injuries and partially due to his own play), World Peace has played just 71 minutes in which the Lakers have been outscored at a rate that would translate to 45.5 points per 100 possessions.
Robinson’s play would seem to have earned him the opportunity to stick on the roster for the rest of the year, which is exactly what has happened according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. World Peace’s spot, however, is a little less (pardon the pun) guaranteed:
Hearing the obvious that the Lakers are happy with Thomas Robinson at the guarantee deadline, not entirely decided on Metta World Peace...— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) January 7, 2017
Lakers are happy w/the role MWP has as a rostered mentor - deciding if that's worth guaranteeing rest of the season - can always waive later— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) January 7, 2017
There's a significant difference between a teammate and an assistant coach - as far as mentorship - Lakers evaluating that price https://t.co/GNKEsJOfnb— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) January 7, 2017
The Lakers have until tomorrow afternoon to make their final decision, but opening up a roster spot would have some value for the team. It would allow the Lakers to take on an unwanted contract in a trade in exchange for an asset, or allow the team to sign a younger player out of the D-League to either a 10-day contract or for the rest of the season to increase their roster depth.
The front office and coaching staff could also decide to keep World Peace, who has become a valued locker room presence and respected voice on the team over the last two seasons, a value which Mark Medina of the Orange County Register offered details on:
Though World Peace has career-lows in points (1.2), shooting percentage (23.8 percent) and playing time (5.5 minutes) in 13 appearances, Lakers coach Luke Walton said World Peace has been a “great mentor all season long.”
Walton then praised World Peace for his practice intensity, occasional speeches and willingness to train with teammates. Just as World Peace showed when he reflected on his physical altercations, his insight has been more spontaneous than scripted.
“I don’t force it on them like, ‘Guys what are you doing? You guys are playing like (expletive)!” World Peace said before Friday’s game against Miami at Staples Center. “It’s not about that. It’s about trying to win today and having a great practice tomorrow.”
Whether the Lakers ultimately value that enough to keep World Peace is a mystery, but one worth keeping an eye on heading into the deadline.