The New York Knicks have bought out the contracts of forward Metta World Peace and point guard Beno Udrih.
Knicks president and general manager Steve Mills announced the decision via a statement on New York’s website.
“We are disappointed that it did not work out for Beno and Metta here in New York,” Mills said.
“We thank them for their contributions this season and wish them well.”
World Peace, who signed a $3.2 million, two-year contract with a player option for next season in the offseason, is a Queens native and described signing with his hometown Knicks as a “childhood dream” before the season.
However, the former St. John’s star, who grew up in Queensbridge, has struggled with a left knee injury throughout the season, and has averaged only 4.8 points and 2.0 rebounds in 29 games this season. Well below his career averages of 13.8 points and 4.7 rebounds over 15 seasons with the Bulls, Pacers, Kings, Rockets, Lakers and Knicks.
The move does not come as a surprise to World Peace, who announced via twitter that his agent was negotiating a buyout of his contract on Saturday.
The player formerly known as Ron Artest announced in a statement that while he was sad to be leaving New York, his time with the team needed to come to an end due to professional reasons.
“It was a childhood dream of mine to play basketball professionally in New York City, and it has truly been a blessing for that dream to have come true,” said World Peace.
“However, under current circumstances, my agent and I have agreed that being bought out would be the best option for me professionally. I would like everyone to know that whether I was on the court or off, I could not have been happier playing for and cheering on this amazing city, my city.
“Lastly, I would like to thank all of the incredible fans of New York, as well as my teammates, my coach and the Knicks’ owner for the wonderful opportunity to play in my hometown.”
World Peace needed to be released this week in order to be eligible to sign with a contender for the playoffs.
Beno Udrih, who also signed in the offseason, made only 31 appearances (12 starts) for New York this season, averaging 5.6 points and 3.5 assists. Over 10 seasons, Udrih has also played for San Antonio, Sacramento, Milwaukee and Orlando.
Both players were apparently unhappy with the lack of playing time they were receiving under head coach Mike Woodson.
“They weren’t in the rotation, and I’m not going to linger on it,” said Woodson.
“We’re buying them out, and as a coach when guys work for me I wish them nothing but the best when they move on. And we’re going to move on.
“You can’t play everybody, and if you’re not playing you’ve still got to be a good teammate and be ready to play when called upon. Unfortunately, I couldn’t play them … I’ll get back and talk to Steve and ownership [Sunday] sometime and look at the players available out there.”
With big men Andrea Bargnani and Kenyon Martin still sidelined with injury, the Knicks will be looking to add another front court player and a guard in the coming days.