I’ve seen quite an array of reactions in the past 24 hours on the Knicks’ decision to sign Queens native, and St. John’s alum, Metta World Peace (formerly Ron Artest) to a two-year deal made official yesterday out in the desert of Las Vegas. Some fans have been clamoring, since June of 1999, for World Peace to suit up in his hometown orange and blue. Others think New York is now making desperation moves, or calling the bluff of the team across the river, who has triumphed the back page since the end of the season. But the reality is, it makes sense.
Yes, there is potential risk. As always, there’s potential for Metta to spiral out of control before mid-April. But there also comes a great potential reward with World Peace.
The Knicks’ haven’t really prioritized their offseason exactly the way we all had hoped. There is still a hole in the backcourt that needs to be filled, and another center will help. But now, having two top-tier defenders on the wing will help mask Carmelo Anthony’s lack of defense. World Peace is still a capable defender at 33 years old.
Last year, he was valuable to the Laker, as opponents’ offensive rating dipped by 3.6 points per 100 possessions, while World Peace was on the court, as opposed to on the bench. He also still has the ability to guard anyone from the shooting guard, to some centers.
The only other player on the Knicks that comes to mind when I think of a versatile defender is Iman Shumpert, who’s ability to defend both guard spots and small forwards is extremely impressive. That being said, you can never have enough players capable of guarding multiple positions.
Another spec we can shine some light on is World Peace’s grit. Most of us already know he is not afraid of anyone. Starter or reserve, the Knicks now have someone they can throw out on Eastern foes such as LeBron James, Paul George, or Paul Pierce.
I see a little bit of an Anthony Mason parallel here. A bruiser who will come off the bench with reckless abandon, strong mentally and physically, and just someone who isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty. The Knicks took a step last year, but still lacked drearily in toughness. We saw it all season. Chicago swept the season series, and Indiana made a joke of our interior game in the playoffs. Do you want to find me someone who can say Metta won’t help the Knicks in these aspects?
Kudos also goes to Walt Frazier, who made an interesting point while doing color commentary for the Knicks-Bobcats Summer League game yesterday, saying trades like this, to hometown teams late in a player’s career, could take a few years off a player’s odometer. The thrill and rush of being back in front of friends and family is a big boost. That being said, I am not worried one bit about the defensive prowess Metta will bring, but hopefully coach Woodson can squeeze the orange on the offensive end and get his 3pt% back up into the 40’s again. World Peace also has a knack for getting to the line, which is where the Knicks need to get to more this upcoming season during dry spells rather than chucking 20-foot shots.
The only major concern I would have to agree with, is that World Peace and JR Smith will be quite the peanut gallery, and the media will eat that up. Kobe Bryant, as I’ve heard from a few Laker fans, had Metta on a tight leash during their championship season, and was a big reason in his maturity level changing. But being back in his hometown should be enough to keep his focus on the court rather than elsewhere.
Overall, this signing by Grunwald gets an A from me. Adding more toughness on defense and a capable knock down shooter to assist on the scoring load will help majorly. Also bringing in a hometown hero and being ballsy enough to do that after seeing how Stephon Marbury ended up shows me Grunwald has no fear, and trusts his move.