The put-back winning shot against the Suns in Game 5 is barely celebrated, if not forgotten.
Nearly two seasons removed, we hardly remember the former Ron Artest locking up with Paul Pierce prior to tip-off, symbolizing how the Lakers would no longer wilt under NBA Finals’ lights against the Celtics again.
With every brick he put up in last seasons playoffs, the kisses directed at the Staples Center crowd after sealing a Game 7 victory seem to blow further and further away.
After two seasons, one championship, a Citizenship Award, and trips to visit Congress and the president, Metta World Peace may temporarily join the other 12% of Californians who are currently unemployed.
An amnesty provision in the new collective bargaining agreement would allow the Lakers to waive Peace and avoid his salary counting against the cap.
David Stern made it clear that he wanted a more competitive NBA. The new clause makes it intriguing for stacked teams to drop players who may not be worth their contracts, but who would draw interest from smaller market and less talented teams.
Although it makes all of the fiscal sense in the world, basketball wise it may be costly.
Kevin Durant remains the rising conference star, and his Oklahoma City team has the right balance of youth and experience. If the Lakers do away with Peace, who on the roster would stand a chance at guarding him?
With the ‘Big 3′ in Miami having a season under their belts, the Heat are a safe bet to make it back to the NBA Finals.
Who could Mike Brown summon to cover the 6-8 250-lb. LeBron James?
In the east there are still the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce, and Loul Deng who all require a top notch defender at small forward.
The Lakers shook their soft label not after Pau Gasol stood up to fellow finesse power forward Carlos Boozer, but once they signed Peace, and he brought his bad boy reputation with him.
Sure his running in the stands days are over, but there is always intrigue behind what he MIGHT do.
After seasons of having to be the enforcer, Kobe Bryant finally had Peace on his side. All of a sudden teams treated the Lakers with just a tad bit more respect, and trash talking and cheap shots didn’t come as often.
The Lakers shouldn’t neglect having the big older brother. Get rid of Metta World Peace and teams might return to challenging the Lakers toughness. Players might start taking cheap shots at Kobe Bryant knowing he doesn’t have a bodyguard anymore.
Had the ’2011 season ended with a three-peat instead of an embarrassing sweep, there might be room to consider a downsize.
But in the wake of arguably one the lowest points in playoff history, Dr. Buss and the Lakers can’t afford to lose pieces.