Metta World Peace said on Monday he plans to come home to play for the New York Knicks, just days after the veteran forward was waived by the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Knicks said a contract has not been signed with the former NBA Defensive Player of the Year, but an agreement has been reached.
“The team is amazing, the players. I’m excited to play and hustle,” World Peace said while attending the NBA summer league in Las Vegas.
World Peace, who grew up in New York City and attended university there, was waived on Thursday last week by the Lakers, who used the amnesty clause to create salary cap space.
The 2m tall forward will still be paid the US$7.7 million that was owed to him by the Lakers.
“It has nothing to do with New York, the city,” World Peace said. “The only thing that’s important are those players that I’m going to be joining and touching that hallway with. That’s all that’s important right now.”
“I don’t think I’m a missing piece [to a puzzle],” he said. “I’m more honored to be playing with these players.”
Marc Cornstein, World Peace’s agent, said the new deal came about pretty quickly.
The Knicks expressed interest right after they were allowed to reach out to the forward, who legally changed his name from Ron Artest during his tenure with the Lakers.
“He’s really excited to be joining his hometown team. That’s obviously been something that’s been a dream of his since growing up in Queensbridge,” Cornstein said. “He’s just thrilled to be joining the New York Knicks.”
In 14 NBA seasons with five teams, World Peace averaged 14.1 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.
He averaged 12.4 points and five rebounds in 75 games last season. The 33-year-old tore knee cartilage in March and clearly was not the same player afterward. He did not play in the last game of San Antonio’s four-game sweep of the Lakers in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Atlanta Hawks signed two-time NBA All-Star Elton Brand on Monday, picking up a player who can bolster their depth in the frontcourt and provide veteran leadership in the locker room.
The 34-year-old Brand, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1999 NBA draft, averaged 7.2 points and six rebounds per game last season with the Dallas Mavericks, well below his career average of 17.4 points and 9.1 rebounds.
Also on Monday, the Detroit Pistons officially announced the signing of Italian forward Luigi Datome.
The Pistons agreed to a US$3.5 million, two-year contract last week with Datome, who has played professionally in Italy since 2003 and has been a member of the Italy national team since 2007.
Datome was named Italian League Most Valuable Player with Acea Virtus Roma this year, averaging 16.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.