Dion Waiters‘ latest six-game suspension with the Heat will be over after tonight’s game, but there’s no resolution in sight for the standoff between the team and the veteran guard, writes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link). Miami wants to find a way to move on from Waiters, but is reluctant to waive him outright and has had no luck finding a trade partner.
“The Waiters contract is as close to untradeable that I have ever seen in the NBA,” one league executive told Marks.
That might be an exaggeration, as Waiters’ $12.1MM cap hit this season and $12.65MM salary for 2020/21 aren’t as onerous as the figures we’ve seen on some multiyear contracts moved in the past. Still, Waiters certainly has negative trade value, and the Heat are unwilling to attach any of their promising young players like Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn, or Duncan Robinson to make a deal happen, Marks writes.
Miami’s ability to offer a first-round pick as a sweetener is also limited, since the team owes a pair of future first-rounders to Oklahoma City. On top of that, the Heat don’t want to take on any money that stretches beyond next season, since they want to keep their books as clean as possible to pursue a star free agent such as Giannis Antetokounmpo in the summer of 2021. And they can’t take on any extra salary this season due to their hard cap.
All those roadblocks add up to make a Waiters trade a difficult proposition, but a buyout appears no more viable. According to Marks, every team he spoke to at last week’s G League Showcase in Las Vegas believes that Waiters’ NBA career is likely over, so the 28-year-old won’t be motivated to give back any of his salary.
With Waiters set to become eligible to return from his latest suspension after Monday’s game, we’ll see if the Heat take any action with him this week — having him remain away from the team while still receiving his salary would be one option. Barring an unlikely turn of events, he has probably played his last game for the franchise.