Metta World Peace to come off bench

Updated: December 16, 2011, 7:51 AM ET
By Andrew Kamenetzy | ESPNLosAngeles.com

New Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown has decided to use Metta World Peace, the starting small forward during the 2010 and 2011 seasons, as a reserve.

"I'm probably gonna bring him off the bench," acknowledged Brown.

Considering how World Peace is coming off a 2011 season disappointing enough to prompt some NBA analysts to wonder if the Lakers might use the new CBA's amnesty provision on him, the natural inclination would be to frame this decision as a demotion. But according to the coach and player, who've discussed the matter, it's actually a matter of strengthening the second unit while increasing World Peace's opportunities.

"I think we need to bolster our bench," said Brown. "I think we need to (be) able to have certain guys we can play through and I think at times, we can play through (World Peace). Not only that, my opinion is if he's with the starting group, there's one basketball. I got three guys (Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum) that need touches. I got three guys in that starting unit that are post-up guys. With my second unit, (World Peace) will be one of my main guys. He'll be one of my main post up guys."

Brown also likes the idea of the reserves taking cues from World Peace.

"He, in his own uncanny way, is a leader," explained Brown. "If that same group's not doing well at times, I'm gonna get on (World Peace), because he wants the responsibility of leading that group."

"I think he wants to accept that challenge," Brown added.

For his part, World Peace, who actually predicted during the offseason Brown might play him off the bench, said he's looking forward to the new role.

"It's going to be good," insisted World Peace. "I get a chance to come in and have some more responsibility, which I've had my whole career. So, it's going to put the other team off-balance because when Kobe, Pau and Bynum are out, you still got to double-team me on the block. You can't leave me open. So, at all times on the floor there's going to be a threat. You can't leave me on the block by myself, you can't.

"I just think it's going to give me a chance, really, to help the team first. That's what's most important."

As for who will start at small forward, Brown presented the situation as an open race among the remaining small forwards on the roster.

"I might start Matt (Barnes). I might start Luke (Walton). I might start (Devin) Ebanks. I think those three guys are competing for a spot," he said.

Andrew Kamenetzky is a co-host of the Land O' Lakers blog. ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin contributed to this report.

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