He's 36 years old ... but Metta World Peace says he ain't ready to ride off into the sunset just yet -- telling TMZ Sports he hopes to return to the Lakers for his 17th season!
Metta was out at a charity event at Bootsy Bellows nightclub -- when we asked if we should look for him back in purple and gold next season.
"We'll see ... hopefully," Metta told us.
He also dropped this Metta-ism ...
"Golden State, they're the best team ever ... but the Lakers are the best team in the world."