NBA Rumor: Dion Waiters Free Agency

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Dion Waiters considering retirement

Dion Waiters is now contemplating closing out his professional career. During a recent Instagram Live session, Waiters showed off his championship ring while talking about his future. “They think I’m playing. I been contemplating it though—about retiring,” Waiters said. “It’s the politics for me. Game-wise, we know what’s up. I just can’t do the politics, man. We ain’t going over that water. I’ll retire before that.”

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During the TNT telecast, Yahoo! Sports, Chris Haynes reported that the Los Angeles Lakers would be reaching out to Dion Waiters to gauge where he’s at physically and mentally. Well let the Lakers rumors begin. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst weighed in on his podcast. “I don’t know if Dion Waiters is an answer,” Windhorst said on The Hoop Collective podcast. “They’re going to give Dion a look. They had a meeting with him last week. I expect they will have a workout with him in the short-term and see what kind of condition he’s in. “They’re mulling it over and it’s because they need some sort of perimeter player who can score a little bit.” “Dion doesn’t just have to convince the Lakers,” Windhorst said. “He has to convince LeBron.”

TheLakersReview: Yahoo! Sports Chris B. Haynes was a guest on The Mason and Ireland Show today and here are a couple of the highlights regarding the Lakers: on the Lakers March 2 meeting with Dion Waiters: “… the reason why it’s scheduled for that day it gives the Lakers time to see who’s going to be able to be bought at that March 1st deadline gives them a chance to see the landscape of players out there and assess from there … the Lakers are still looking for reinforcements …”

Waiters initially balked at the Heat’s offer. In his heart, he knew he wanted to play in Miami after meeting with Riley and Erik Spoelstra. But after holding out for a bigger role in OKC, the Heat were offering even less money than the Thunder’s qualifying offer. Waiters wrestled with the decision in his head, knowing Miami offered a great opportunity.

“I cared about what everyone was going to say if I signed that deal,” Waiters says. “I knew I wanted to be there, but I cared about the hell what people would say. But then I thought, f*ck ‘em. They doubted me before. They thought I was a joke before. But now my back was against the wall. I had to man up. I knew people were talking crazy. Saying I had one foot in, one foot out. Saying I was close to being out of the league. That’s when I came up with that jawn—I’m going to bet on myself and then double down.”
4 years ago via SLAM

“I’m going to be honest with you—after that whole OKC thing, with the contract and all, it felt like my back was against the wall,” he says, referring to last offseason. The Thunder kept Waiters in limbo while Kevin Durant pondered his future. Once KD bolted, Waiters was no longer in the franchise’s long-term plans, despite the team previously hinting that he was. “It felt like they played with my life and with my family. I had offers—stuff you can’t pass up—and for them to hold out that long? It’s messed up.”

Dion Waiters indicated Sunday he is willing to give the Miami Heat a hometown discount when it comes to his impending free agency. The question, of course, is the degree of the largesse. Appearing on WSVN’s 7 Sports Xtra, Waiters said he would be willing to make an accommodation with the team that helped revive his career, something he indicated at season’s end and then during a recent appearance on ESPN. “It depends,” he said Sunday. “Yeah, I would, though. But, like I said, it depends, just being the right thing, at the right time. It’s just got to be right. It’s got to be equal.”

First, everything about what Dion Waiters might (or might not) realize on the free-agent market at this point is speculation. And the NBA types I have spoken to believe that some of the speculation is at a far higher rate than Dion might realize, considering the limited market last summer and the small sample size this past season due to injury. But often none of that matters, since it only takes one suitor to set the market, with plenty of cap space available around the league. Ultimately, it could come down to Dion’s preference of cash or contention.

When I heard that Miami was interested in me this summer, I wasn’t really seeing it at first. Nothing against the Heat, but I didn’t know how I’d fit there. Then I met Pat Riley. I walked into his office and … damn. The hair was slicked back, and he was wearing one of those suits of his, you know, real O.G., looking like a million bucks. Behind him, he’s got photos of all his championship teams lining the walls. He’s wearing one of his nine rings. He’s sitting there looking like De Niro in Casino. He’s looking like the boss. He’s looking like he’s seen it all, because he has. Purely as a basketball fan, I just want to learn from this man.

I knew right away Pat was a real guy, because he wasn’t even asking me about basketball. He was asking me about life. Then Pat says, “We’re going to get you in world-class shape. Not good shape. Not great shape. World-class shape.” I mean, I’m in the NBA. In my mind, I’m already in good shape. But do I eat a Philly steak every now and then when I’m home? You know I do. So Pat’s looking at me like, “Give us a season, and you’ll see. World-class.” Even the way this man pronounces world-class is world-class, you know what I mean? And then he says to me, “Tell me something about Dion that I don’t already know. Not about basketball. About life.”

Whiteside, meanwhile, said he would like to see what the team could do with Waiters healthy for a full season. Waiters has missed 12 games in a row because of a sprained left ankle and missed another 20 with a groin injury the first half of the season. “Obviously Pat didn’t trade any of us,” Whiteside said. “He wanted to see what this team can do.” “I think how we were in the second half of the season with Dion, we kind of mixed better as a team. We knew each other a lot better and we knew each other’s strengths a lot better. We know we can talk to each other eye to eye and face to face.”

In a weak market for free agent shooting guards, Waiters – a bargain at $2.9 million this season – could cost a bundle: perhaps $14 million or more this summer, and the Heat doesn’t need to decide yet if it’s going to pay it until Miami sees the closing chapter of the most impressive run of Waiters’ five-year career. But Waiters, 25, already knows how he wants this summer to play out. “I want to get it done as quick as possible,” he said, hoping Heat longterm interest is mutual. “Let’s keep this thing rolling by any means. I don’t want to go into free agency with a couple days and make a decision. I don’t want that. I know where I want to be. Let’s just get it done. My mom loves it here. Would be mad at me [if I left]. My son loves it. My family loves it.”

Could he see himself in Miami long term now that he’s made it past the trade deadline? “You never know what the world holds or what can happen. I live day by day,” Waiters said. “But like I said, I enjoy [being with the Heat]. Like I said, my teammates are great, the chemistry we’ve built, like I said I’m comfortable. Once you find comfort somewhere it makes everything else easier. Like I said, I’m comfortable, [there’s] Coach Pat. We’re going to see. “It’s Miami, my son loves it. Why not? We’re going to finish out strong and let everything else take care of itself.”

“He ain’t got to question me. He’s never got to question me,” Waiters said with a smirk Friday afternoon at shootaround when he was told what Riley had said about him and how his play down the stretch this season could affect his long term prospects with the Heat. “At the end of the day, I’m going to go out there, play my game, play hard and make sure that I leave it all out there for my teammates,” Waiters continued. “If I play hard every night, knowing I played hard, I can sleep good at night.”

Did he like hearing Riley, 71, toss out a bit of a challenge to him and others? “It’s a challenge everyday just being in the NBA,” said Waiters, who is averaging a career-high 15.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists and shooting a career-best 38.4 percent from three-point range this season. “Pat puts those type of expectations on us because he believes in us. I don’t call it pressure. I think it’s called a guy just showing great belief in us and this team that we have. Why not go for it all?”

Although the odds remain long that he returns to Miami, he is saying the right things and endearing himself to the franchise both on and off the court, especially recently. “Everything,” Waiters said this week when asked what has allowed him to feel at home with the Heat. “Organization, people around the organization, my teammates, coach, of course Pat (Riley). I think this is the best opportunity for me. Like I said when I signed, it wasn’t about the money it was about the opportunity and having a place you call home. I’m just happy I made that decision.”
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