2012-13 Season Stats:
Metta World Peace: 12.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.5 apg, .6 bpg, 1.6 spg, 40.3 FG%, 33.7 mpg, appeared in 75 games
Earl Clark: 7.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.1 apg, .7 bpg, .6 spg, 44.0 FG%, 23.1 mpg, appeared in 59 games
Before the 2012-13 season even began, Metta World Peace grabbed headlines by saying, “We definitely want to beat the Bulls record and go 73-9.” So MWP managed to jinx the season before the vaunted starting five played a single minute together. Metta was seen as the weak link in the Lakers new starting rotation, but he started out the season strong, which could be attributed to his noticeably slimmer physique.
Under Mike Brown, MWP was expected to be a strong wing defender who could hit the open three. Once Mike D’Antoni took over that changed; MWP was given the green light from beyond the arc. Metta averaged 5.5 three pointers per game, the second highest mark in his career.
Aside from new role of “not-so-accurate” sharpshooter, MWP was one of the few Lakers who gave his all every single night. If the Lakers had played with the effort Metta and Kobe gave, night in and night out, the season would have shaped up much differently. Although he only shot 40.3% from the field, it was actually an upgrade from his previous two seasons in Los Angeles. On March 28th, Metta World Peace had surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee. Metta returned only 12 days later to play for the Lakers against the Hornets. His speed and agility weren’t there, but you have to love the effort and desire of MWP.
Earl Clark was traded to the Lakers along with Dwight Howard last offseason, and proved to be an integral part of the Lakers’ season. Credit Lakers GM Mitch Kupchack, who has managed to find value in trade throw-ins consistently (Vladimir Radmanovich to the Bobcats for Adam Morrison and throw-in Shannon Brown comes to mind).
Clark, a former lottery draft pick, came to the Lakers as an underachiever who hadn’t caught on in both Phoenix and Orlando. But he was young at 24 years old to begin the season and possessed athleticism; two traits the Lakers sorely needed.
Clark didn’t see any playing time under Mike Brown, and when it switched over to Mike D’Antoni it didn’t get much better. On January 8th, Earl managed to get significant playing time due to injuries to Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill. Following that January 8th game, Earl only saw less than 10 minutes in a game once. Clark proved he is a player with a role in the NBA, with or without the Lakers. He can rebound well, can shoot well, and plays solid defense. The Lakers provided “The Clark Knight” with a chance and he didn’t disappoint. He was truly a bright spot in a Lakers season that didn’t have many.
2013-14 Season Forecast:
Metta World Peace has a player option for $7.7 million next season and has stated he would like to remain with the Lakers. He also hinted at the possibility of opting out of his final season to secure a long term, lower cost deal. If the Lakers do not want to go in this direction, this is the final opportunity to use their amnesty clause. That would mean the Lakers would be paying MWP $7.7 million to play for a different team, an unappetizing thought. Metta’s future with the Lakers will likely depend on his willingness or lack thereof to take a pay cut.
Earl Clark will enter the summer as a restricted free agent. This means the Lakers have the ability to match any offer another team makes for Clark’s services. Clark certainly played his way to a new contract with the Lakers, but restricted free agency is never certain. If a team makes an over the top offer for Clark, the Lakers will be unable to match and have to let Clark walk. Clark stated he would take less money to stay with the Lakers, but that is easy to say when the money has yet to be put on the table.