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NY Knicks Free Agent Watch: Metta World Peace Could Be Coming Home
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12 Jul 2013 11:06 AM EST

-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Metta World Peace dunks against the Atlanta Hawks. (Image Source: Allen J. Shaben/Los Angeles Times)

On Thursday night, the Los Angeles Lakers amnestied Metta World Peace and numerous media outlets have reported that the New York Knicks are interested in signing the local product if he becomes a free agent.

The Queensbridge native has told his father that he plans on retiring if the Lakers use the amnesty clause to cut ties with him, however Ron Artest Sr. believes there’s a good chance he could be wearing the Orange & Blue this coming season.

“I feel it’s a big, big possibility,’’ Artest Sr. said of his son coming to the Knicks in an interview with the New York Post on Thursday night. “If the Knicks go after Ron, I can’t see him turning them down.’’

While senior hasn’t spoken to his son, he did reveal that World Peace has longed to call Madison Square Garden home.

“My gut feels like if the Knicks want him now, my gut tells me it will happen,’’ Artest Sr. continued. “I haven’t spoken to him yet tonight. I think he could be a prized possession for the Knicks. He wanted to play for the Knicks for so long, since childhood.’’

The Knicks had their chance to draft him when the swingman was coming out of St. John’s in 1999. Instead, New York selected center Frederic Weis out of France with the 16th pick and the Chicago Bulls drafted World Peace, then known as Ron Artest, with the very next pick.

Earlier in the week, a friend of World Peace Jose Morales, told that the swingman “hopes to land with the Knicks" and “he loves the Knicks."

It’s possible that another club could claim World Peace before the ‘Bockers ever get their chance. The teams under the salary cap have 48 hours to claim him off amnesty waivers. They would not have to pay the full $7.7 million due to him this season, simply the amount of their bid with the Lakers picking up the rest of the tab.

It is believed that World Peace has no interest in playing for a small-market team such as the Utah Jazz or Sacramento Kings and would favor a return to New York City to play for his hometown Knicks.

Because the Lakers would have to make up for the remainder of his contract, New York could sign World Peace for the league veteran minimum of $1.4 million. The Knicks have lost out on several free agent targets because they were able to sign more lucrative contracts elsewhere.

The SJU product is a perfect match in the sense that he would love to play for the Knicks and the team can fit him under the salary cap.

By using the amnesty clause on World Peace, he will not count against Los Angeles’ salary cap and will save the Lakers luxury tax money.

“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. For anyone who’s had the opportunity to get to know him, it’s impossible not to love him,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement. “He has made many contributions to this organization, both in his community work as well as in our games — perhaps no more so than in his clutch play in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals in helping to lead us over the Celtics in one of the greatest playoff wins in Lakers history. We thank Metta for all his contributions and wish him the best of luck in the future.”

During his tenure as a Laker, World Peace won an NBA title and his 12.4 PPG last season was his highest in his four years in LA. World Peace is a 14.1 PPG career scorer and has long had the reputation for being one of the toughest and staunchest perimeter defenders in the league.

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