Metta World Peace is not going to be on the court with the Lakers until Game 7 of the first round or somewhere in the second round (if the Lakers advance that far), but he is still practicing with the team.
After the Lakers Wednesday practice, World Peace spoke with reporters for the first time since his seven game suspension was announced. A number David Stern personally took credit/blame for (depending on how you view it).
Here is what World Peace said, via the Lakers.com. He started out sounding remorseful but he said he did not speak with Harden.
“It was, ooh.., it was a brutal elbow. When I seen it, arrgh”
“I didn’t lose it. It was bad timing for me. Physically it was bad time for Mr. Harden.”
“The way I’m feeling right now, back to that elite level … A lot of guys that were able to guard me early they can’t guard me. My game’s feeling great. Just the worst timing for me right now. But I’m happy James is OK.”
I think Stern’s description was apt — this was reckless but not premeditated intentional. That in no way absolves World Peace from blame or say he doesn’t deserve punishment, it’s just that he is a guy who doesn’t have the filters, that doesn’t think about the consequences of his actions the way most people his age do. It was a reaction.
World Peace was averaging 15.9 points per game on nearly 50 percent shooting the 10 games before his suspension (he had 12 points in the first half against the Thunder before being tossed). The Lakers will try to replace him with Matt Barnes, who is battling an ankle injury, but it will not be the same.
The Lakers and Thunder would meet in the second round of the playoffs, if both advance that far.