The Los Angeles Lakers waived Metta World Peace on Thursday under the NBA’s “amnesty” clause, the 14-year veteran promptly saying on Twitter he would play “for Yao Ming’s team in China.”
World Peace, formerly known as Ron Artest, played a key role in the Lakers’ 2010 NBA title run, in his first season with the team.
“It’s tough to say goodbye to a player such as Metta, who has been a significant part of our team the past four seasons,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said in comments he posted on Twitter. “For anyone who’s had the opportunity to get to know him, it’s impossible not to love him.”
He nailed a game-winning shot at the buzzer to eliminate Phoenix in the 2010 Western Conference finals and scored 20 points in Game 7 of the finals to help the Lakers seal their second straight championship.
However, World Peace has also been suspended 11 times since 2003 — including a one-game ban last season for hitting Detroit guard Brandon Knight in the jaw.
In 2004, he received one of the longest NBA bans in history for his role in a brawl with fans in which he raced into the stands in Detroit.
Those issues no doubt made it easier for the Lakers to opt to “amnesty” him, which the Los Angeles Times estimated would save the team about US$15 million in luxury taxes.
The player, who competed for Chicago, Indiana, Sacramento and Houston before joining the Lakers, said he was excited by the prospect of a move to China, where retired NBA star Yao Ming is the owner of the Shanghai Sharks.
“I’m going to play for Yao Mings team in china!” World Peace tweeted. “I can’t wait to arrive in Shanghai!!”