The Lakers announced yesterday that Metta World Peace underwent successful surgery on his left knee to repair a torn meniscus, and will miss six weeks. Whether or not the Lakers make the playoffs, World Peace's season could be over, and Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News wondered yesterday if the veteran forward has played his last game as a Laker.
World Peace isn't necessarily in the final year of his contract, since he has a player option for next season. However, if he exercises that option, he becomes a prime candidate to be amnestied. If he declines the option, he'll hit unrestricted free agency. Either way, the man formerly known as Ron Artest may sign a new contract before he plays in his next NBA game.
A number of players are in the same situation as World Peace, with potential free agency looming and an injury keeping them off the court. Here are a few guys who we may not see play for their current teams again, and whose free agent stocks could be affected by their current injuries:
Although Jason Kidd and the Mavericks didn't seem to part ways on the best of terms this summer, Mavs owner Mark Cuban had kinder words for Jason Terry, who also left Dallas over the offseason. Cuban said Monday that the club looked at the possibility of a multiyear deal for Terry, but "couldn't make the numbers work," according to Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News.
"I would have liked for him to stay," Cuban said. "But I understood what his goals were. He’s always going to be special and hopefully when his career is over he’ll come back and work with us."
As Terry and his new club, the Celtics, prepare to host Cuban's Mavs tomorrow, let's round up a few more updates out of the Western Conference:
The Thunder are the only Northwest Division team in action tonight, as they take on the Bulls, and after that, every team in the division will have just one more preseason game before final roster decisions must be made. Clubs are offering a few clues about their plans, and we round them up tonight along with other news out of the Northwest.
5:49pm: The second-round picks the Blazers will get are both for 2013, tweets Joe Freeman of The Oregonian. They'll receive the Celtics' own selection, along with the Timberwolves' pick that the C's acquired in an earlier deal. Freeman also passes along word from Blazers GM Neil Olshey, who says he is hopeful Pavlovic will make the team out of camp (Twitter link). Freeman confirms, via Twitter, that the Celtics will send the Blazers cash to cover Pavlovic's salary, which will likely be the veteran's minimum. Pavlovic's 2012/13 contract is non-guaranteed, so he could be waived without the Blazers taking a cap hit, Freeman confirms in an email to Hoops Rumors.
4:05pm: In making their own official announcement about the trade, the Trail Blazers noted that they'll acquire two future second-rounders from the Celtics, rather than just one (Twitter link).
2:12pm: The Rockets have officially announced the Lee sign-and-trade agreement in a press release. Based on the team's announcement and a tweet from Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe, the deal looks like this:
According to ESPN.com's John Hollinger (via Twitter), Lee will earn exactly $5MM in his first year, making his total contract worth the same as the maximum mid-level exception (four years, $21.35MM). The Rockets, meanwhile, are expected to waive Moore and Williams in the very near future. Diebler, the player whose rights Houston receives from Portland, was selected by the Blazers 51st overall in 2011 and spent last season overseas.12:01pm: Lee will receive a fully guaranteed four-year, $21.5MM contract in the sign-and-trade, tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. That's a little more than he could have earned with the mid-level exception, so his starting salary figures to be slightly over $5MM.
11:30am: Lee figures to earn a first-year salary of about $4.6MM, while the Celtics will pay Pavlovic's salary for Portland and will also send the Blazers a second-round pick, tweets John Hollinger of ESPN.com. It's unclear what exactly the Blazers are giving up in this deal, but it doesn't seem like it'll be anything of significance.
FRIDAY, 12:17am: The Trail Blazers are expected to step in as a third team to facilitate the Lee sign-and-trade, according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald (via Twitter). It sounds as if Portland will receive Sasha Pavlovic from the Celtics.
THURSDAY, 9:50pm: Even though the deal has yet to be completed, Lee will join the Celtics and the Rockets' end of the sign-and-trade will not change, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. The Rockets will receive JaJuan Johnson, E'Twaun Moore, and Sean Williams, but do not plan on keeping the latter two. Houston will also get the Bobcats' 2013 second-round pick in the deal.
9:30pm: The Suns and Hornets are the teams that were, and still may be, involved in the trade talks, tweets Bulpett.
6:19pm: If the trade goes down, it will involve at least three teams, Bulpett tweets.
5:42pm: The trade for Lee still expected to go through, tweets A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com. Blakely adds that the Rockets will waive Moore upon acquiring him.
5:05pm: The trade appears to be in trouble but both sides are working to keep it alive, Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald tweets.
3:41pm: The Celtics have agreed to acquire Courtney Lee in a sign-and-trade deal with the Rockets, according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter). Details are still being worked out, but JaJuan Johnson will be heading to Houston, says Spears.
As John Hollinger of ESPN.com points out (via Twitter), for salary-matching purposes, it's "inconceivable" that the Celtics could acquire Lee for Johnson alone. It's likely that the non-guaranteed contract of E'Twaun Moore will be involved as well, along with at least one other player, and perhaps cash or draft picks. The deal figures to require some maneuvering from the Rockets, who are already shuffling their roster around to create a spot for Omer Asik's offer sheet.
The Timberwolves, Bulls, and Suns were also believed to be in the running for Lee, and the Rockets could have re-signed him as well, since they'd yet to renounce his rights. The 26-year-old averaged 11.4 points per game for the Rockets in 2011/12, on 43.3% shooting (.401 3PT%).
With a loss tonight against the Heat, the Pacers' season will end. Hoopsworld.com's Joel Brigham believes that even if that happens, Indiana has established themselves as a franchise to contend with.