Just when the Los Angeles Lakers thought they were getting healthy, the team lost it's most durable starter this season.
Metta World Peace will miss at least six weeks to undergo surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, the team said in a statement.
"Sorry bout the injury," World Peace tweeted on Tuesday after hurting his knee late in the first half of L.A.'s 109-103 loss to Golden State on Monday. "First ever knee injury. Recovery time hopefully is a week and a half."
He deleted the tweet later.
In a separate tweet, World Peace wrote: "I can't wait to get back. But our team is so good We will win and get into the playoffs."
World Peace had been the only member of the Lakers' season-opening starting lineup yet to miss a game because of injury this season. World Peace has played in 70 of L.A.'s 71 games (sitting one due to suspension) and averaged 12.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.7 steals per game.
"It's been a trying year for a lot of reasons and not just injuries, which everybody has to go through," D'Antoni said before tests result revealed the full extent of World Peace's injury. "We just can't seem to get any traction. But, besides that, nobody is feeling sorry for us and we got plenty [of talent remaining] to win anyway so let's just do what we're supposed to do and go out and play as hard as we can and see what happens."
The Lakers (36-35) have a one-game lead over Dallas and Utah for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 11 games remaining. They have won 21 straight games against Minnesota.
"I was hurt because Metta, he's been strong all year," said Dwight Howard about the latest blow to the team's roster. "He hasn't really had that many problems and then he gets hit with a serious injury. It just seems like all year when somebody comes out [off the injured list], somebody does down. So, it's kind of tough and to see Metta go down, it kind of hurt."
World Peace could very well have played his last game as a Laker if he doesn't return for a possible playoff run. World Peace, who turns 34 in November, has a player option for $7.7 million next year in what would be his 15th season. The Lakers still have the amnesty provision available to them should World Peace opt into the contract, a stipulation from the latest NBA collective bargaining agreement that allows a team to waive a player signed prior to the start of the 2011-12 season and take his salary off their cap. World Peace could also explore free agency.
In World Peace's first year as a Laker in 2009-10, L.A. won a second consecutive NBA championship with World Peace (still known as Ron Artest) putting up 20 points, five rebounds and five steals in Game 7 of the Finals against Boston.
World Peace's agent, Marc Cornstein, told ESPNLosAngeles.com that he has not spoken with Lakers management about the possibility of them exercising the amnesty clause on his client.
"That's been tabled for a little while," Cornstein said. "There will be time to go through that after the season."
World Peace recently told NBA.com he was mulling declining his player option for next season in hopes of signing a new, multi-year contract.
"That's premature," Cornstein said. "Our biggest concern now is how he recovers from his injury, not where he'll be in the future ... We'll go through the process [of looking at all options available] after the season."
ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin contributed to this report.