Dion Waiters signed with the Lakers on Friday, but it will be “a few games” before he makes his debut with the team, coach Frank Vogel told Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. Waiters, who went through his first practice with his new team Saturday, has barely played this season after falling out of favor in Miami. That’s why Vogel plans to bring him along slowly, unlike Markieff Morris, who played right away after joining the Lakers two weeks ago.
“(Morris had) been playing games for the Pistons; Dion’s played three games this year,” Vogel said. “So it’s a matter of acclimating, getting used to our system, getting a few practices under his belt.”
The 28-year-old guard is ready for a fresh start after a difficult season with the Heat that included three suspensions. The first step was getting to know his new teammates, including LeBron James, whom Waiters briefly played alongside in Cleveland.
“We all grew up on the AAU circuit and things like that, so it wasn’t that hard,” Waiters said. “I could easily just come in here and be myself. I don’t have to be nobody I’m not. So they opened the doors for me and welcomed me in with open arms, so it’s been smooth. It’s been really, really good.”
There’s more Lakers news to pass along:
- Waiters said the team asked about his off-court issues in Miami before deciding to sign him, but that part of the interview was short, Goon adds in the same story. General manager Rob Pelinka was Waiters’ agent for five years, so they already have a relationship in place. “At the end of the day, I’m grown,” Waiters said. “So you learn from your mistakes, at the end of the day. We don’t got to keep drilling on the past, things like that. You live and you learn. And I did that.”
- Although they have much bigger goals in mind, the Lakers enjoyed clinching a playoff spot with Friday’s win over the Bucks, relays Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. It was especially important for James, who missed the postseason last year for the first time in more than a decade. “I came here to put this team and put this franchise back where they needed to be,” he said. “The league is not what it is if the Lakers are not winning. And that was one of my responsibilities, one of my goals when I came here.”
- The Clippers have replaced the Celtics as the Lakers’ most intense rival, claims Arash Markazi of The Los Angeles Times. They occupy the top two spots in the Western Conference and will have their third meeting of the season this afternoon.