Dion Waiters

Southeast Notes: Waiters, Capela, Hornets, Beal

After declining to comment on it earlier in the season, former Heat guard Dion Waiters has published a Players’ Tribune article in which he addresses the incident on the team flight in November that led to a 10-game suspension. Waiters reportedly experienced a medical episode on the flight after consuming a “gummy,” an edible form of marijuana.

In his Players’ Tribune piece, Waiters took responsibility for the incident, calling it “idiotic” on his part.

“What’s crazy is, my whole life I been a leader. I’m not a follower,” Waiters wrote. “(Heat president) Pat (Riley) knows me. He knows I don’t do drugs. But sometimes when you’re going through dark times, you can fall trap to things you’d never do in your right mind.”

While Waiters took responsibility for what did happen on the flight, he adamantly denied one detail that showed up in some reports following the incident.

“I never had a seizure,” Waiters said. “Ask the doctors. Ask my Heat teammates. They can speak on it. For that b.s. to come out, it ain’t right. I made a mistake, but for someone to leak that, and for my family to hear it? S–t. It ain’t right.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • In a conversation with Chris Kirschner of The Athletic, Hawks center Clint Capela spoke about the experience of being traded, his expectations for next season, and his foot issues — the big man said he’s feeling healthier, but is still unsure if he’ll play if the season resumes in June or July. Capela also expressed optimism about his fit alongside John Collins: “I think we’re going to do well. I think we’re good enough to really figure out how to be efficient at what we do. He can shoot 3s and do other stuff. I think we can figure this out.”
  • Roderick Boone and John Hollinger of The Athletic take an in-depth look at the Hornets‘ future, with Hollinger suggesting that the team missed a chance to kickstart its rebuild by not trading Kemba Walker before he reached free agency. While there are fewer impediments on their cap than there were a year ago, Hollinger thinks the Hornets may still be a lottery team for a few more seasons.
  • Bradley Beal wasn’t always a vocal leader for the Wizards, but he has turned into one in recent years. Fred Katz of The Athletic explores how that happened.

Lakers Notes: Waiters, LeBron, Clippers Rivalry

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.

Lakers Sign Dion Waiters To Rest-Of-Season Deal

MARCH 6: The Lakers have officially signed Waiters, the team announced this afternoon in a press release.

MARCH 5: The Lakers and free agent guard Dion Waiters have agree to a deal that will cover the remainder of the 2019/20 season, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Los Angeles has an open spot on its 15-man roster after waiving Troy Daniels on Sunday, so no corresponding move will be required.

After starting the season with Miami, Waiters was traded to the Grizzlies at the deadline last month and was subsequently waived by Memphis. The 28-year-old had a workout for the Lakers earlier this week and was said to have made a good impression during his visit with the team, leading to today’s contract agreement.

Waiters, whose stint in Miami was derailed by health issues and his off-court behavior, was suspended by the Heat three separate times this season and has only appeared in three games in 2019/20. In his three previous seasons with the club, he averaged 14.0 PPG, 3.6 APG, and 2.9 RPG with a .414/.365/.646 shooting line in 120 total games (28.7 MPG).

It remains to be seen how much Waiters will actually play in Los Angeles, but the team had been in the market for a little more play-making and scoring on the perimeter, which he can potentially provide. The Lakers were also said to be considering J.R. Smith, who auditioned for the club earlier this week too. Both players are represented by Klutch Sports, the agency that reps LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Rich Paul, the head of Klutch Sports, has had multiple conversations with the Lakers about Waiters, according to Charania, who notes (via Twitter) that the team is willing to release the veteran guard if things don’t work out.

[RELATED: Lakers Still Monitoring Market For Shooting Help]

Although Waiters’ contract must be guaranteed at this point of the season, it sounds like the Lakers are taking a similar approach to the one they took when they signed Dwight Howard to a non-guaranteed deal last offseason. Howard has made the most of that bounce-back opportunity in Los Angeles — we’ll see if Waiters can do the same.

Having used their disabled player exception to sign Markieff Morris, the Lakers have no available cap exceptions worth more than the minimum, so Waiters’ new deal will be worth a prorated portion of the veteran’s minimum. If he officially signs tomorrow, he’ll earn $503,656 for the rest of the season, with L.A. assuming a cap hit of $375,385.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lakers Notes: Waiters, Smith, Davis, James

Shooting guard Dion Waiters had an impressive showing in his workout with the Lakers on Monday, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. Waiters also met with coach Frank Vogel and front office executives Rob Pelinka and Kurt Rambis.

Waiters has had a trouble-filled season which included three team-imposed suspensions with the Heat. He was traded to the Grizzlies and then waived. A report surfaced last week that the Lakers would give Waiters a look. The Lakers opened up a roster spot on Sunday by waiving guard Troy Daniels.

We have more on the Lakers:

  • The team also brought in another veteran shooting guard, J.R. Smith, for a workout on Monday, Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times reports. Smith had a casual conversation with Pelinka and Vogel after his workout. The team might look at more free agents and is in no hurry to fill the roster opening, Ganguli adds. Smith hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since November 2018.
  • The Anthony Davis blockbuster trade with New Orleans has turned into a a win-win situation, Andrew Lopez of ESPN notes. Davis has turned the Lakers into serious contenders for the title this season, while the Pelicans’ rebuild has been accelerated with the additions of Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, along with the multiple draft picks they acquired. Ingram will be a restricted free agent this offseason, while Ball and Hart will be eligible for extensions.
  • LeBron James offered high praise for the league’s top rookies after defeating both of their squads, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register relays. James led Los Angeles to wins over Memphis and Ja Morant and a pair of victories over New Orleans and Zion Williamson“It’s a hell of a rookie class, I’ll tell you that,” James said. “These kids are special.”

Dion Waiters To Work Out For Lakers On Monday

MARCH 1: In addition to meeting with Waiters, the Lakers will also work him out on Monday in Los Angeles, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

The Lakers, who waived Daniels on Sunday, now have an open 15-man roster spot, but the team won’t be in a rush to fill it, according to ESPN. Although Woj and McMenamin suggest that Waiters will be one candidate for that roster opening, the ESPN duo notes that the Lakers will go through a “significant vetting process” with the veteran guard after his turbulent year in Miami.

FEBRUARY 26: The Lakers have a meeting scheduled with free agent guard Dion Waiters for March 2, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (relayed by Marc Stein of The New York Times on Twitter).

After being traded by the Heat and then waived by the Grizzlies earlier this month, Waiters has been on the open market, free to sign with any team except Miami. In the wake of his release, a report indicated that Waiters was expected to have “exploratory” discussions with the Lakers.

As we noted on Monday, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst suggested earlier this week that Waiters and the Lakers had already met, but that may have been more of a touching-base conversation then a full-fledged meeting. Windhorst added that the team would likely want to bring the 28-year-old in for a workout to “see what kind of condition he’s in.”

Waiters, who averaged 14.0 PPG and 3.6 APG in 120 games (28.7 MPG) during his first three seasons in Miami, barely played for the Heat this season, appearing in just three games. He fell out of favor with the club, serving three separate suspensions for violating team rules before being traded to Memphis.

Still, the Lakers are said to be in the market for a play-making perimeter scorer and Waiters could fit that bill. Of course, it’s worth noting fact that their meeting is set for March 2. Since March 1 represents the deadline for players to be waived and retain their postseason eligibility, the Lakers will know by next Monday whether there are other players on the buyout market who would be more favorable options than Waiters.

If the Lakers sign Waiters or another free agent, they’ll have to release someone from their 15-man roster. Troy Daniels and Quinn Cook would probably be the club’s most likely release candidates.

Lakers Notes: Kobe’s Memorial, Waiters, Roster

Nearly a month after Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna were killed in a tragic helicopter crash, a memorial service was held today at the Staples Center to honor their memory. Lakers GM Rob Pelinka, former teammate Shaquille O’Neal, Hornets owner Michael Jordan, and Kobe’s widow Vanessa Bryant were among those who spoke at the emotional event, as an ESPN story outlines.

In addition to publicly mourning her late husband on Monday, Vanessa Bryant has also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Island Express Helicopters Inc. and the “representative or successor” of pilot Ara Zobayan, per an ESPN and Associated Press report. The lawsuit claims that Zobayan was careless and negligent by flying in poor weather conditions rather than aborting the flight.

Here’s more on the Lakers and their late superstar:

  • Dave McMenamin of ESPN has an in-depth look at how Lakers players and staffers found out about Bryant’s death on January 26. The team was flying from Philadelphia to Los Angeles following a five-game road trip when the news broke, making for a somber, miserable cross-country flight.
  • On his latest Hoop Collective podcast, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst confirms that the Lakers met with Dion Waiters last week, as was expected. According to Windhorst (hat tip to RealGM), the team is “mulling” the idea of signing him, since it could use “perimeter player who can score a little bit.” However, L.A. will want to see what sort of condition the veteran guard is in. An earlier report suggested the Lakers may have to be won over by Waiters in the same way they were by Dwight Howard last summer.
  • In case you missed it, the Lakers officially signed Markieff Morris on Sunday, waiving DeMarcus Cousins to make room on the roster. As we relayed earlier today, Cousins and the Lakers are said to have mutual interest in a new deal in the offseason.

Lakers Expected To Talk To Dion Waiters

After a tumultuous season that included three suspensions in Miami and a trade to Memphis, veteran guard Dion Waiters is currently on waivers. When he goes unclaimed on Tuesday, he’ll be free to sign with any team except the Heat, and it sounds like the Lakers may have some interest.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Lakers are expected to have an “exploratory” discussion with Waiters sometime soon. As Wojnarowski notes, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka previously represented Waiters during his days as a player agent.

The Lakers are in the market for a play-maker to add to their backcourt. Darren Collison was previously thought to be at the top of the team’s wish list, but as we relayed on Sunday, he has decided not to pursue an NBA comeback this season. Woj suggests L.A. is considering multiple other possibilities, including waiting to see who else might hit the buyout market.

The fact that Waiters is represented by Rich Paul and Klutch Sports, who also represent Anthony Davis and LeBron James, could work in favor of a union with the Lakers. However, Wojnarowski suggests that – as they did with Dwight Howard before signing him last summer – the Lakers would want to talk to Waiters to get a sense of his “state of mind” after his career hit a rough patch within the last year.

Waiters, 28, has been hampered by injuries in recent years, having not played more than 46 games in a season since 2015/16. Conditioning issues and off-court behavior – including a confrontation with head coach Erik Spoelstra and an incident on the team plane with a weed gummy – played a part in his lack of role with the Heat this season. He appeared in just three games for the team all season, averaging 9.3 PPG in 14.0 MPG.

If they want to sign Waiters or another player, the Lakers will have to remove a player from their 15-man roster. DeMarcus Cousins, who is expected to miss the entire season with a torn ACL, looks like the most probable odd man out.

Grizzlies Waive Dion Waiters

3:57pm: The Grizzlies officially confirmed that they have waived Waiters, via a team press release (Twitter link).

3:39pm: The Grizzlies have waived Dion Waiters, acquired from the Heat in a three-team deal that also sent Justise Winslow and Gorgui Dieng to Memphis, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium (Twitter link). A prior report had suggested that Waiters would not be long for Memphis.

The 6’3″ shooting guard, 28, was taken with the No. 4 pick by the Cavaliers in the 2012 NBA draft. He had productive, albeit erratic, seasons with the Cavaliers, Thunder and Heat before injuries and off-court issues marred his output. Waiters has not played more than 46 games since the 2015/16 NBA season. He has suited up for just three games this season.

The 26-26 Grizzlies are prioritizing youth and upside as they build around promising young stars Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant. While Waiters had to be included in the deal with Miami for salary-matching purposes, he wasn’t in Memphis’ long-term plans.

Charania notes that Waiters will be paid in full by the Grizzlies for the remainder of this season and his complete $12.6MM salary for the 2020/21 season, the final year remaining on the four-year, $52MM deal he signed with the Heat in 2017.

Heat Acquire Iguodala, Crowder In Three-Team Trade

7:10pm: The trade is now official, according to press releases from the Timberwolves, Heat, and Grizzlies. Minnesota became part of the deal by agreeing to acquire Johnson for Gorgui Dieng, as we outlined in a separate story, making it a three-team trade.

11:16am: The Grizzlies and Heat have agreed to a trade that will send Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder, and Solomon Hill to Miami in exchange for Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters, and James Johnson, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). No draft picks will be included in the deal.

Shams Charania of The Athletic (all Twitter links) first reported that Crowder, Hill, and Waiters would be involved in the trade, which broke last night.

There’s still time for the agreement to be expanded to include the Thunder and Danilo Gallinari, but those talks between Oklahoma City and Miami have “fully stalled,” according to Woj (Twitter link).

The Heat were hoping to fold an acquisition of the veteran forward into the trade, perhaps extending his contract in the process. However, Wojnarowski tweets that the Grizzlies and Heat are focusing on officially finalizing a two-team deal for now, with Miami still unable to reach an agreement for Gallinari.

Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald has heard similar rumblings, tweeting that Crowder and Hill could be re-routed to Oklahoma City if the deal is expanded to include Gallinari, but for now Hill is under the impression he’ll end up in Miami, along with Crowder.

Even if the Heat can’t land Gallinari, they’ll add three veterans capable of playing rotation roles in Iguodala, Crowder, and Hill. Although Iguodala hasn’t appeared in a game at all since being traded from Golden State to Memphis in July, he played key minutes on the Warriors’ championship teams in recent years and will be well-rested for the stretch run.

As we detailed in a previous story, Iguodala and the Heat have reached an agreement on a two-year, $30MM contract extension as part of the trade. The second season of Iguodala’s extension will reportedly be a team option, allowing Miami to retain its financial flexibility to participate in a loaded free agent class in 2021. The Heat are expected to guarantee the second season of Iguodala’s deal for if they miss out on their top free agent targets in ’21, per Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Crowder and Hill, meanwhile, have helped the Grizzlies exceed expectations and compete for a playoff spot this season. Crowder has started 45 games, averaging 9.9 PPG and 6.2 RPG and playing strong perimeter defense, while Hill has averaged 5.7 PPG with a .381 3PT% in 48 games (18.8 MPG).

The trade will also help the Heat out financially, since they’re sending out more money than they’re taking back. ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets that Miami is now $3.4MM below its hard cap and reduced its projected tax bill by nearly $3.7MM. That could allow the Heat to be a player in the buyout market, though the team still has a full 15-man roster.

The franchise also cleared a significant amount of salary for 2020/21 in the deal, though Iguodala’s extension cuts into that newfound flexibility a little.

As for the Grizzlies, they’ll take on three pricey multiyear contracts in exchange for their three expiring deals. Having also extended Dillon Brooks on Wednesday, Memphis has gone from having $50MM in projected cap room to likely being over the cap this summer, tweets Jeff Siegel of Early Bird Rights.

Winslow is the prize of the deal for Memphis. The former lottery pick is under contract for $13MM annually through 2021/22, with a team option on the final year. Winslow has flashed tantalizing upside as a ball-handler and defender, but injuries have limited him to just 11 games this season. He’s currently sidelined with a lower back bone bruise.

Johnson and Waiters are on oversized contracts — Johnson is earning $15.35MM this season with a $16.05MM player option for 2020/21, while Waiters is owed $12.1MM this season and $12.65MM next year. Memphis’ willingness to take on those deals signals that the team is willing to roll over its cap room to 2021.

Both Johnson and Waiters have spent much of the season in the doghouse in Miami, but Johnson has at least appeared in 18 games, averaging 5.7 PPG and 2.9 RPG on .448/.356/.571 shooting in 15.6 minutes per contest.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Grizzlies Don’t Intend To Retain Dion Waiters

The Grizzlies will receive Dion Waiters in the three-way trade with the Heat, though they do not plan on keeping the guard. According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), a buyout agreement or outright release is “on the horizon” for Waiters.

The former No. 4 overall pick had issues with the Heat prior to the trade. He’s been suspended three times this season, including one for conduct detrimental to the team and one for rules violations. Even when he was available, he wasn’t part of the team’s rotation, appearing in just 42 total minutes over three games.

Waiters is on a fully guaranteed contract worth $12.1MM this season and $12.65MM in 2020/21, so the Grizzlies will have to take on a sizable chunk of dead money to move on from him. His ’20/21 cap hit could be stretched across three seasons, but Memphis probably prefers to keep it limited to one year.

Justise Winslow is the lone Heat player in the trade who will actually play for Memphis. The franchise re-directed James Johnson to Minnesota, picking up Gorgui Dieng before the deadine.