Lakers Rumors: How Metta World Peace's Potential Departure Shapes LA's Summer

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistJune 25, 2013

SAN ANTONIO, TX - APRIL 21:  Metta World Peace #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers during Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on April 21, 2013 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

While attempting to decode Metta World Peace's tweets can be tricky business, it would appear that he has dropped a big hint on Twitter about his plans for the offseason:

The small forward formerly known as Ron Artest doesn't provide any context to his tweet. L.A. Daily News Lakers writer Mark Medina may have the context, though:

World Peace apparently has a decision to make. As Medina points out, he could accept his $7.7 million player option for the 2013-14 season, ensuring he gets at least one more nice payday in his professional career, or he could opt out in hopes landing a long-term deal. 

However, World Peace's farewell to Los Angeles would bring to the light a third option: declining his option and hitting the open market. 

Obviously, this would be a big deal for the Lakers. Let's look at how it affects them going forward.  

All salary information via HoopsHype.com.

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Cap Relief

The Lakers possessed the league's top payroll last season with over $100 million in salaries. Trimming down the payroll to get under the salary cap is a task that even Subway Jared couldn't pull off. 

However, World Peace's $7.7 million contract coming off the books would go a long way in getting the team as close to the luxury tax as possible. If the team is unable to re-sign Dwight Howard, that will be a huge boost to what the team is trying to accomplish. 

Other than getting under the luxury tax, it won't affect how much they're able to spend right now. Nor will it play a huge factor in their long-term spending plan. His contract was set to expire in 2014 anyway. 

The Dwight Howard Chase

World Peace leaving Los Angeles is just a small blip on the radar for the Lakers this offseason. Everything hinges on what Dwight Howard decides to do. 

Everyone wants to know what this means for the way the Lakers handle the Howard situation.

Directly, it doesn't mean much. The Lakers are allowed to go over the salary cap to sign him because they own his Bird rights, so it doesn't help or hurt their chances in terms of how much money they can offer the big man.

However, it does put some more pressure on the Lakers to find suitors for a sign-and-trade scenario for Howard. With World Peace out of L.A., the Lakers would only have eight players under contract—that leaves seven roster spots to be filled and very little money to do so. 

Gaining assets in return for Howard becomes even more important with World Peace gone. 

On the Floor

Here's the good news: This isn't 2008-09. Losing World Peace isn't going to cause extensive damage to what the Lakers bring to the floor.

The fact of the matter is World Peace was below average as a small forward last season. According to HoopData, World Peace's PER of 12.6 was 18th in the league among small forwards who played at least 30 minutes per game. 

In fact, the departure of World Peace could pave the way for increased development from the Lakers' younger players. Earl Clark posted a PER of 12.5 coming off of the bench and would figure to see increased minutes in World Peace's stead. 

Overall, this is a big blow to the Lakers in name only. World Peace is an experienced veteran who will always be remembered in L.A. for his role on the 2010 championship team, but his loss is hardly the biggest worry the Lakers have this offseason. 

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