The Miami Heat filled up a roster spot by signing Dion Waiters, a superstar in his own mind, but an inconsistent shooting guard up to this point in his NBA career.
The Heat signed Waiters on a two year deal including a player option, with the value of the entire deal less than the qualifying offer he could’ve signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder, his team for the last season and a half. The Heat used its room exception on Waiters, despite not planning on doing so in the offseason, waiting for a midseason pickup. However, Dwyane Wade and others leaving left the Heat with more money to spend than they expected, and with a big need for anyone, maybe surprised that someone who can be as good as Waiters (can be being the key words) still available.
Waiters, a fourth overall pick in 2012, has been disappointing in his NBA career thus far, more known for his bickering with Kyrie Irving in the Cavs backcourt and then getting shipped out of Cleveland for not fitting in once LeBron James arrived, than anything else. He averaged 9.8 points in 27.6 minutes per game last season with the Thunder, shooting just 39.9% from the field, mostly coming off the bench.
Waiters isn’t in a bad spot right now, and maybe the last opportunity anyone will give him to show he can be a leading player on a good NBA team. It’s funny to say, he’s only 24, but chances aren’t endless in the NBA, and reputations are hard to change. He’s on a Miami Heat team with a dire need for scoring and plenty of minutes to give in the backcourt. Waiters averaged 15.9 points per game in 2013-2014, playing 29.6 minutes a night. If the Heat play him heavy minutes, he can replace Dwyane Wade, at least in pure numbers, although efficiency and leadership won’t be easily replaced.
As for Waiters and his decision making, it’s funny how someone can read the map all wrong regarding his value. Waiters was a restricted free agent, waiting for an offer sheet to come, or for the Thunder to start negotiating a long term deal. It never came. He could have signed the $6.8 million qualifying offer, and decided to wait. The Thunder rescinded the offer, and Waiters ended up signing a two-year deal worth $6 million, or just under it.
Who knows, maybe he’ll have a big season (he certainly has the opportunity to bump up his minutes and usage ratio) which will land him a big deal with the salary cap getting another raise, making up for lost money this season. Maybe his plan all along was flexibility and free agency next summer. However, for now, Waiters remains a player who seems to value himself a lot more than everyone else does.