- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
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LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown and starting small forward Metta World Peace had a clear-the-air meeting following Tuesday's shootaround to address media reports that had surfaced in the past several days that pointed to a rift between World Peace, the coaching staff and his teammates.
World Peace, who entered Tuesday averaging career lows in points (4.7), rebounds (2.6), steals (0.7), field goal percentage (32.7), 3-point percentage (19.0), free throw percentage (51.4) and minutes per game (22.4), made comments to CBSSports.com criticizing Brown's background in coaching.
"Right now, coach is a stats guy," World Peace was quoted as saying. "His background is video coordinator or whatever. So he's all stats. But Ron Artest is all feel."
Brown shrugged off the remarks during his pregame media session before the Lakers hosted the Atlanta Hawks.
"If I were him, I'd be frustrated. I talked to him about it," Brown said. "I said, 'Metta, I don't take anything personally. I'm OK with it. Just be careful what you say to the media in that regard. But if I was a stats guy, Metta, you wouldn't be playing at all. Because look at your stats offensively, and then Synergy says you're the 192nd-best defensive player in the league.' "
Synergy Sports Technology is a popular video scouting service used by NBA and NCAA basketball teams.
World Peace, 32, also told reporters following the Lakers' 92-85 loss to the New York Knicks on Friday that he felt the team was struggling with the inconsistency of Brown's rotation. World Peace scored zero points against the Knicks and played just 12 minutes in his return to his hometown.
"I was never frustrated," World Peace said before the Hawks game on Tuesday. "There was no frustration. Just looking for the consistency of whether I was on the bench or whether I was playing, just looking for the consistency. Once you find the consistency you already know where you stand at and you can move forward and win games."
Brown has experimented with the lineup in his first season as Lakers head coach, playing Devin Ebanks for the first four games as the starting small forward, followed by Matt Barnes for the next 16 games before going with World Peace for the last nine games.
"It doesn't matter if you're starting or not," World Peace said. "Coming off the bench, whatever it is, as long as it's building that consistency. Once you build that consistency, it's going to be pretty easy with a team like this ...
"Once you build a consistency, things work. [Brown] had a hard job. He had to come in here after Phil Jackson and he had to find out his rotation. He had to find out what he wants. Phil had been here for 10 years, so his consistency was pretty easy. I was the only new player when I got here, so it was pretty easy. When you have new players and new coaches [this season] and it took a long time to build some consistency. That affected not just my game; it affected a couple people early on. Now you see guys starting to hit shots and you can see a slight change."
Brown said World Peace will remain as his starter but admitted he will still be making adjustments to the minutes his players receive as the Lakers approach the halfway point to the season -- Atlanta was game No. 29 on the lockout-shortened 66-game schedule.
"I have changed rotations," Brown said. "I don't think it's any different than when you look at a lot of other teams. A lot of guys, especially teams with new coaches that are putting new systems in, they've got to get a feel for what their team can do, and for what their players can do. God bless anybody that can walk into any situation and after two games figure out what rotation he wants to have and keep it that way for the rest of the year. He's a better and smarter man than I am, so I give him kudos."
World Peace also addressed a FoxSportsWest.com report that quoted an anonymous player on the Lakers as saying, "There are a lot of guys in here who'd just like to see him gone ... I think we'd definitely be a better team if everyone didn't have to walk on eggshells when he's around."
Said World Peace: "It's not true. That's lying. That's a lie report. That's definitely not true. That's some people trying to get things going on in L.A., trying to get teammates against each other ... I think for people to lie to the public and to the fans is irresponsible."
World Peace also addressed the reports on his Twitter account on Monday night but as of Tuesday before the Hawks game, all of his tweets from Feb. 4 to 14 had been erased.
"Everybody here is on the same page," World Peace said. "When you lose ... everybody here shows some type of concern at one point and time. My concern just got out, but everybody here shows some type of concern and that's a great feeling."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
Lakers head coach Mike Brown and starting small forward Metta World Peace had a clear-the-air meeting following Tuesday's shootaround to address media reports that had surfaced in the last several days that pointed to a rift.