As the 2018-19 season continues to draw closer, teams with players on large salaries continue to look for ways to move those guys. On today’s docket, we have Dion Waiters, and the 3-years and $39 million he has left on his deal in Miami.
After a semi-successful 2.5 year run with the Cavs, Dion Waiters was sent to the Thunder as his fit with that Cleveland team was not so good. He averaged 13 points in 47 games (20) starts while wearing #23 in Oklahoma City that season. The following year, there for the full season, he averaged just ten points per game, shooting 39.9% from the floor. The Miami Heat signed him to a relatively cheap two-year deal, with a player option for year two.
Though Waiters suffered an injury and his year with the Heat was cut short, he impressed them enough (15.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 4.3 apg, 0.9 spg, 42.5% FG, 39.5% 3PT, numerous game winners), to earn a 4-year, $52 million extension. However, his 2017-18 season was cut very short, and he would appear in just 30 games. Though his field goal percentage dropped a bit, his production was mostly the same while he was on the floor. Miami would eventually trade for Dwyane Wade later in the season, who saw big minutes off of the Heat bench.
There are many questions surrounding Waiters right now. There are those about his health and how he will recover from his ankle surgery. There are those talking about his fit on a guard-heavy team, with Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson, and Wayne Ellington all around. They have not yet been notified if Dwyane Wade will be coming back. If Wade doesn’t return, the expectation would be for Dion to be a starter alongside Dragic as he has been these past few years.
It is hard to tell just what the market for Waiters looks like, as most teams aren’t usually looking to take players with more than two years left on contracts. With a few exceptions (Blake Griffin, 5 years left and Tobias Harris, 4 years left, in the past), this is a rarity. The talent that Waiters possess, and his ability to play so efficiently in isolation is something that makes him a very hot commodity. Even through his rollercoaster runs in Cleveland, he was always there hitting big shots whenever the team needed them. In OKC, he provided a nice scoring option behind KD and Russ.
Whether or not Waiters is traded next year, he will have a lot to prove. Coming back from a surgery on his ankle which has been bum-ish for the past two years will be tough. It’s important in today’s game to get efficiency from three-point range from your guards, and Waiters has been a career 34% shooter (30% last year).
Will he ultimately end up staying in Miami and playing out this season? On day one of training camp he will likely be here and playing a large role for the team. Keep watch though, as his name is in fact on the market.