first_imgWill the beginning of the Lakers’ season next week mark the end of World Peace?The former Ron Artest, who now goes by Metta, is with his second stint with the Lakers. But it marks a stark contrast to when he arrived here in 2009 and became a key ingredient to ensure the Lakers of another NBA championship. This time, the 35-year-old World Peace has competed for one of the last roster spots along with Jabari Brown, a scoring guard with more upside. But World Peace continuously stressed his uncertain future is “not my concern,” even if he won’t answer whether he will continue his 15-year NBA career after playing overseas in the last two years. Instead, World Peace resorted to a comedy routine that has often made him a favorite among media members. “I like working hard. That’s what I like to do,” he said, before looking at a handful of reporters on Wednesday. “You like to wear nice dresses. I don’t know what designer that is, but it’s nice. [Pause.] That’s a nice shirt, Armani Exchange. [Pause.] Yours, not so nice.” World Peace’s presence with the Lakers goes beyond delivering colorful sound bites. He enters the Lakers’ preseason finale against Golden State on Thursday against Anaheim averaging 4.2 points and 2.0 rebounds in 15.8 minutes while showing flashes of the play that once earned him an NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. “He’s not as quick as he used to be, but he knows how to play,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said of World Peace. “He knows what spots to be in and how to guard guys. He knows their strengths and weaknesses. He’s a very valuable asset to us right now.”World Peace has also become a valuable asset by becoming a mentor. He represents the lone Laker besides Kobe Bryant that has won an NBA title. The Lakers also have a flush of big men, notably second-year forward Julius Randle, eager to learn about his tricks. “We’re a better team with Metta,” said Randle, who praised World Peace for teaching him about offensive and defensive rotations, footwork, mental preparation and playing off the ball. “It’s not our decision if he’s on the team or not. But Metta’s knowledge and wisdom that he brings to this team is amazing. It’s fun playing with him.” That’s partly because World Peace has continuously deflected credit. “We learn from each other. He’s smart,” World Peace said of Randle. “When I first started to shoot with him a little bit, I told him some things that he caught on really quickly.”World Peace then credited Randle for suggesting to him to set a back screen during Wednesday’s scrimmage, a claim that initially caught Randle off-guard. “I don’t know if he’s really learning anything from me,” Randle said. “But we’re talking on the court and making it easier for each other.” Regardless, World Peace said he “absolutely” believes in the Lakers’ rebuilding process. He also predicted the Lakers will make the playoffs “with or without me.”“I could see the growth,” World Peace said. “The Lakers are the underdog right now. It’ll be a great story in a couple years — well, this year — when the Lakers go to the playoffs.”Injury updateLakers guard Lou Williams plans to play in Thursday’s game against Golden State after missing the past two exhibitions because of a groin injury. Williams practiced on Wednesday without restrictions. center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more