Clippers Eye World Peace For Late-Season Deal?

FRIDAY, 2:05pm: Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers didn’t give the impression that he has interest in World Peace while speaking with reporters today, notes Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter links).

WEDNESDAY, 11:27am: The Clippers have been monitoring Metta World Peace for a while, Marc Stein of ESPN.com said this morning on SportsCenter (video link), following up on a tweet from Daniel Artest, World Peace’s brother, who said Tuesday that the Clippers have interest. World Peace, who signed a one-year deal in the offseason with China’s Sichuan Blue Whales, wouldn’t come back to the NBA until the Blue Whales season is over, as Stein points out, but Sichuan’s final regular season game is February 1st. That would leave plenty of time for World Peace to return to the NBA before the end of its regular season in April, barring a long playoff run for his Chinese club, and World Peace said recently that he plans to return to the NBA as soon as later this season.

The Marc Cornstein client worked out at the Clippers facility over the summer, Stein notes, and World Peace reportedly sought deals with the Knicks, Lakers and Clippers this past offseason. The Knicks considered the possibility, and while it’s not clear if either the Lakers or Clippers did, World Peace said this month that he’d “rather play in Angola” than sign with the Knicks or Lakers upon his return from China.

World Peace is off to a strong start in his first Chinese season after 15 years in the NBA, averaging 22.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in about 31 minutes per game across four appearances. His last NBA game was with the Knicks in February shortly before he asked for and was granted his release from the team amid a sharp decline in playing time. He averaged just 13.4 minutes per game last season after receiving 33.7 MPG the year before with the Lakers.

The Clippers are in danger of paying the luxury tax and they’re also not far beneath their $80.829MM hard cap for this season, as Stein mentions, so they’ll have to be particularly judicious with any additions they make. They’re also limited to handing out the minimum salary to free agents, but the minimum prorates throughout the season, meaning that if World Peace were to join the team for the stretch run, his deal would give him less than $1MM.

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