Sure this isn't the first time. And yes I still call him Artest
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. Metta World Peace might be on the verge of a meltdown, according to some of his Lakers teammates, and coach Mike Brown might be at the core.
World Peace is "walking around all crazy-like. We're just waiting for him to go off," one Lakers player recently told FOXSportsWest.com, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Added another teammate, also requesting anonymity: "He's always talking about how he should be playing no matter how bad he's shooting, but he can't figure out that when he takes bad shots and misses eight in a row it puts us in a hole."
What's more, a source close to the team told FOXSportsWest.com that Brown wouldn't be averse to trading World Peace not necessarily because of a personality clash but simply because he hasn't played well.
And that would make some of his teammates happy.
"There are a lot of guys in here who'd just like to see him gone," one player told FOXSportsWest.com on the condition of anonymity. "I think we'd definitely be a better team if everyone didn't have to walk on eggshells when he's around."
World Peace known as Ron Artest until this, his 13th NBA season is averaging a career-low 22.4 minutes a game in the Lakers' first 27 games. He's averaging 4.7 points a game on 32.7 percent shooting, both career-low figures for him.
World Peace was not available for comment after the Lakers' practice Monday, but he expressed displeasure with Brown during an interview with CBSSports.com.
"I let him coach and I play," World Peace told the website Friday before the Lakers' game with the New York Knicks. "I'm just trying to win, and . . . coach is a stats guy. His background is video coordinator or whatever. So he's all stats. But Ron Artest is all feel."
Brown who coached the Cleveland Cavaliers for five seasons following stints as an assistant with San Antonio and Indiana, and as a scout and video coordinator with Denver seemed surprised, but not concerned, when told Monday about the comments.
"Really?" Brown said after having World Peace's quotes read to him. "I don't have a problem with that if that's how he feels or anybody else feels. I'm OK with it."
The Lakers' first-year coach said he's unconcerned by how people might perceive him.
"In this business there's not anybody who's a head coach that's not going to have guys say something (negative), publicly or privately, about them," Brown said. "If I was the type that would read or continue to believe or think about everything I heard, my focus would be off coaching and on something else.
"Why waste the time and energy? There's nothing that really needs to be said or have me get into that, because it's not a thing where I have to waste my energy."
Brown believes World Peace "was frustrated like he should be."
The night before expressing his displeasure, World Peace got his second-highest playing time of the season (34 minutes, 14 seconds) at Boston but recorded only two points (on 1-for-6 shooting), two rebounds and one assist. His numbers in the previous two games were similar, though with much less court time.
"He wasn't shooting well, but Matt (Barnes) wasn't shooting well, either," Brown said. "But I continued to play both of them, so I can't be basing who's playing or not playing off of stats. I'm going to play whoever I think is going to help this team win. Simple as that."
One can understand why stats might factor into Brown's handling of World Peace.
The swing man is shooting 51.4 percent (19 for 37) percent from the free-throw line and 19.0 percent (11 for 58) from 3-point range, both career lows. But such stats, World Peace told the website, shouldn't determine whether he plays in key situations. "I'm gonna make a big stop and I may make a big shot."
In the Lakers' close win at Toronto on Sunday, Brown chose to not put World Peace in the game at the end to guard the Raptors' Jose Calderon, who torched LA for 30 points.
Five years ago, when the then-Ron Artest was a great defender, inserting World Peace in such a situation would be a no-brainer. Not anymore.
According to Synergy Sports Technology, World Peace is the 192nd-ranked individual defender in the NBA, allowing .833 points per possession. Couple that with his sputtering offensive game and World Pearce has become an end-of-game spectator.
World Peace has had a troubled NBA career, the most publicized being the "Malice in the Palace" brawl between Indiana and Detroit on Nov. 19, 2004. Then a member of the Pacers, Artest was suspended for 86 games 73 in the regular season and 13 in the playoffs, an NBA record penalty for punching a Pistons fan at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
When he arrived in Los Angeles three seasons ago, it seemed as if he had put his volatile ways in the past, and he helped the Lakers win the 2010 NBA championship. He then auctioned off his championship ring and donated more than $600,000 from the sale to mental health charities.