A restricted free agent once the clock strikes midnight and free agency begins, Dion Waiters won’t be surprised if he gets offers from the Philadelphia 76ers or Sacramento Kings, although the option of staying with the Oklahoma City Thunder is obviously the more likely one.
In his first full season with the Thunder (was traded there by the Cavaliers in the middle of the 2014-2015 season), Waiters had plenty of ups and downs, with weird, destructive moments and some borderline genius ones. That’s the kind of player he is. He averaged 9.8 points while shooting just 39.9% from the field, spending most of his time in the shooting guard position, although the Thunder have used him as a ‘3’ from time to time. Overall, in contrast to his time with the Cavaliers and to Reggie Jackson, he was happy playing behind or next to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
The future of Durant might have the greatest impact on Waiters, unless he gets qualifying offer it’ll be impossible to refuse. If Durant is re-signed by the Thunder, they’ll have no choice but to enter luxury tax territory, but will be unable to sign someone to replace Waiters. Victor Oladipo arriving might change that train of thought, but at the moment, the Thunder seem to be working on the premise that Waiters is going to be with them next season. If Durant bolts, keeping Waiters for the $12 million a season he’s looking for (maybe even more) is a luxury they might not be able to afford.
The Sixers are drowning in cap space, and seem to be connected to every player who isn’t an All-Star level free agent. Waiters could get the opportunity he’s always wanted since entering the league. Being a main offensive option in the backcourt of some team, even if the Sixers look like a team more focused on pushing the ball into the paint with their four lottery picks big men, recently adding Ben Simmons to the mix.
The Sacramento Kings need backcourt help. They haven’t been happy with Ben McLemore and they moved Marco Belinelli. They don’t have a starting point guard for next season either, and Waiters seems like the type of player they would gamble on. Overall, there doesn’t seem to be an actual plan in Sacramento. Just add players around a disgruntled DeMarcus Cousins and hope it works.