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Friday, May 4, 2012
Coach Metta? Believe it

By Dave McMenamin

Metta World Peace has stayed busy through the first four games of his seven-game suspension in a variety of ways. According to his Twitter account, he has been recording tracks for his upcoming mix tape, entitled "Passion." He has been waking up for 5 a.m. workouts and tweeting the results, whether it be a picture of his chiseled abs or a chart tracking how he has changed his body -- in December he weighed 267.8 pounds, in April he was down to 246.5. He has recorded his podcast, "Mettaphorically Speaking: The Ron & Metta Show." He even booked an appearance on "Conan" for next week.

But that's not to say he hasn't been paying close attention to what the Lakers have been doing in their first-round series against the Denver Nuggets.

"He’s working hard. He’s engaged," said Lakers coach Mike Brown said before Game 3 on Friday. "Obviously, you never know (how World Peace will be able to perform when he returns from his suspension), but he’s working his tail off and he is engaged and that’s all you can ask for during this period."

Part of that engagement has included passing along tips to Brown with what he's seeing in the games. World Peace noticed something about how the Lakers were getting back in defensive transition against the Nuggets and told Brown, and Brown in turn, told the whole team at Friday's shootaround.

"After every game he talks to us and during practices he talks to us," Brown said. "He’s heavily involved with watching the game and trying to give his opinion on different things to different individuals and stuff like that, so he’s been good."

Coach Metta?

Not quite. Per the rules of an NBA suspension, World Peace cannot be in the arena during games, so you won't see him in a suit on the sidelines drawing up plays the way Kobe Bryant did when he earned his "Coach Kobe" moniker.

Despite that fact World Peace is banned from being in the Pepsi Center during the games, the Lakers brought him along for the road trip for Games 3-4.

The only way he'll play in the first round is if it goes to Game 7. If the Lakers beat Denver in six games, World Peace will be available for the start of the second round. If the Lakers beat Denver in four or five games, L.A. will (likely) start out against the Oklahoma City Thunder (who are up 3-0 on Dallas) and would have to face Kevin Durant without World Peace to stick on him.

While having World Peace from the start against the Thunder would certainly improve the Lakers chances of advancing to the conference finals, Brown is not about to throw a couple games in the first round to make that happen.

"I just want to win the next game and go on to the one after that, but I’m not trying to figure out when we get him back and all that other stuff, we just got to go play with whoever is in uniform," Brown said. "Whenever he comes back is when he comes back. We got to take care of business right now as best we can."

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.