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Sources: If Lakers drop World Peace, Knicks would be interested

Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace, left,

Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace, left, drives around Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant during Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NBA Playoffs. (May 16, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

The Knicks had a chance to draft Metta World Peace 14 years ago when he went by the name of Ron Artest, but passed. They probably won't do that again if World Peace becomes available now.

There is speculation that the Lakers could waive World Peace through the amnesty provision as early as Wednesday. If they do, league sources said the Knicks would be interested in signing the enigmatic forward.

A source with ties to World Peace said the Knicks are at the top of the list of teams he'd like to play for. "If he does get amnestied, Metta would love to play for the Knicks,'' the source said. "I know he would love to be with the Knicks and retire a Knick.''

World Peace, 33, is from Queensbridge, N.Y., and played at St. John's, so coming to the Knicks would be a homecoming. The Clippers also could be an option.

He averaged 14.1 points for the Bulls, Pacers, Kings, Rockets and Lakers. He was an All-Star and Defensive Player of the Year during the 2003-04 season. He made the first All-Defensive team twice and helped the Lakers win the 2010 title.

He also was a central figure in the "Malice at the Palace,'' the November 2004 fight between the Pistons and Pacers that also involved fans. The NBA suspended World Peace, who ran into the stands during the brawl, for the rest of the season, including the playoffs.

He comes with plenty of baggage, but World Peace could be a good fit because the Knicks are seeking a defensive-minded forward who can help them get past the second round. But a lot has to happen before he comes home 14 years after the Knicks chose Frederic Weis over him.

The Lakers hadn't made a decision on him yet. The NBA moratorium ends Wednesday, so teams can sign and amnesty players. If World Peace, owed $7.7 million for the coming season, is amnestied, teams can make a full or partial waiver claim. Teams under the cap have a better chance to get him, so it might be a long shot for the Knicks.

The source said World Peace hopes no teams make a claim and that the Knicks can get him with the $1.4-million veteran's minimum after he clears waivers in 48 hours. If no team makes a full waiver claim, the player goes to the team submitting the highest bid.

The Dolan family owns controlling interests in the Knicks, Madison Square Garden and Cablevision. Cablevision owns Newsday.

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