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Knicks, fearing Nets, look to Metta World Peace

Harry How

Metta World Peace cleared waivers Sunday and now is an unrestricted free agent, his $7.7 million Laker contract still intact thanks to the CBA's amnesty clause. There are rumors the 6'7" forward, now 33, is interested in the Knicks and that the attraction is mutual.

Larry Johnson believes the Knicks had better move to get him on their roster. Why? Because the Knick player turned executive thinks the Knicks are falling behind the Nets, he tells Marc Berman.

In a remarkable bit of truth-telling, Johnson told Berman, "I’m super impressed by the Nets. They’re in a situation as we were in, got guys are long in the tooth with age. But Pierce and KG have been around a long time. They take care of themselves. They’ll be a handful to handle when it comes down to it.’’

He likes the Knicks pick-up of Andrea Bargnani (for Marcus Camby, Steve Novak and three picks, one a first rounder), but says that's not enough to match what the Nets, Pacers and even the Cavaliers have done.

"The East has gotten so good this summer,’’ Johnson said. "Cleveland is going to be hard to handle. We’ll be OK, but I still think we have a couple of little parts missing that we can do. Another big man, maybe an outside scorer."

The Knicks did sign their biggest free agents, J.R. Smith and Pablo Prigioni, but as Berman points out are one of only seven NBA teams not to sign someone else's free agent this summer.