The Los Angeles Lakers suffered another big blow to their injury-plagued season on Monday against the Golden State Warriors, when starting small forward Metta World Peace torn the lateral meniscus in his left knee. This Thursday, as the Purple and Gold prepared to face the Milwaukee Bucks, MWP underwent a successful surgery back in L.A. However, he’s expected to miss at least the next six weeks due to the procedure.
Therefore, World Peace will not be able to play again in the regular season. The doctors’ timetable of six weeks might enable the man formerly known as “Ron Artest” to be back in the line-up if the Lakers advance to the second round of the Playoffs. But if the 33-year-old forward doesn’t manage to come back in time for another game this season, he might have already made his last appearance as a member of the Purple and Gold. World Peace, who has a player option for $7.7 million next year, can decide to hit the free-agency market on July.
It was the first serious injury suffered by World Peace this season, but the same cannot be said about the rest of the Lakers team. Almost every key player of LAL’s rotation was forced to miss games recently. Steve Nash was out for 24 contests due to a lower leg injury. Steve Blake was inactivated on 37 games after suffering a severe abdominal strain. Pau Gasol missed 33 with a concussion, knee tendonitis and plantar fascia tear. Dwight Howard wasn’t able to suit up for six games due to a torn labrum. A hip injury has forced Jordan Hill to miss 42 games, and he’s unlikely to return this season. Even Kobe Bryant, who is as tough as they come, had to be sidelined on two contests due to an ankle sprain.
I was hurt because Metta, he’s been strong all year. He hasn’t really had that many problems and then he gets hit with a serious injury. It just seems like all year when somebody comes out (off the injured list), somebody goes down. So, it’s kind of tough and to see Metta go down, it kind of hurt.
Dwight Howard, via USA Today
World Peace was averaging 12.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.70 steals this season, as well as often being designated to defend the opposing team’s best player. Also, L.A. had a +3.4 point differential with MWP on the court, as opposed to -5.3 when he was on the bench, a feat that no other Laker was able to match in 2012-13, as reported by Lakers.com’s Mike Trudell.
Head coach Mike D’Antoni has replaced Metta with Jodie Meeks in the starting line-up, moving Kobe Bryant to the starting small forward position.