This year’s free agent market is a big one, and who could forget Dion Waiters? Last Friday, it was reported that he declined his player option with Miami for $2.1 million.
The Miami Heat shooting guard may be on the move, after the best season of his career.
After leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder, Waiters signed a two-year/$6 million dollar deal following Dwyane Wade’s exit. He made a dark horse case for Most Improved Player, and averaged 15.8 points, 4.3 assists, and 3.3 rebounds per game.
Though he faced injury for most of the season, Waiters’ hot streak from January to early February is a big reason the Heat redeemed themselves. After starting 11-30, Miami managed to work themselves back to a perfect .500 record at 41-41.
Taking all this into account, I’ve listed the likely suitors for the shooting guard come this summer:
The Miami Heat
are at the top of the list. They’ve freed up their salary bondage that was Chris Bosh, after he was ruled not able to play due to medical purposes. However, Waiters is one of numerous free agents in Miami, including: James Johnson, Udonis Haslem, Luke Babbitt, Willie Reed, and Josh Richardson (team option).
If the money is there, Miami will do everything they can to keep Dion. Regarding the man himself, he very well may opt to stay in the city that rebirthed his career.
The Philadelphia 76ers
are in the top three across the league, regarding most money to spend this summer. Despite injury, Joel Embiid broke out this season, and showed the potential held for this young team. At 25, Waiters would fit right in to a rebuilding youthful squad.
A Philadelphia native, there’s already a connection. More often than not, players certainly consider a homecoming in free agency. Adding Waiters to the 76ers gives them some more firepower to work with. Who knows, putting him on this injury prone squad may open his ability to score even wider.
The Brooklyn Nets
aren’t the most attractive free agent destination, after recording only 20 wins last season. However, as much as this decision is about where he’ll go, it’s also about who’s going to pay him the most. The Nets have an expected $40-million open in salary, and could even offer Waiters the max.
One thing Brooklyn is looking for is three-point shooting. They averaged the fifth most attempts last season, but couldn’t connect. Signing Waiters adds three-point shooting, and a reliable scorer for Jeremy Lin in the back court.
The Los Angeles Lakers
have reportedly worried the Heat, in regards to their capability to offer Waiters a big contract. They’ll free up $13-million from free agency exits, and have a projected $31-million in total. After trading away Lou Williams to Houston, they may very well look to fill in the shooting guard position.
Last season, the young Lakers showed initiative and growth, between D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle. Nick Young had his best three-point year, and Brandon Ingram found his stride late in the season. The Lakers improved from 17 to 26 wins and are bracing for an even bigger turnaround season.
No teams have been reported in taking interest just yet, but it’s sure once the Finals come to a close. After the season he had last year, the only thing sure is that he will be paid.
Whether or not he’d opt to play with a contender, is debatable. But when you have Brooklyn offering $20-million to be a second option offensively, and a contender offering way less, it becomes a business decision.
The sun is shining on Waiters Island, and the vacation will pay for itself come this summer.
All stats and information provided by ESPN and NBA.com. Featured image provided by Sun Sentinel via Google Images.