Dion Waiters

Dion Waiters Open To Giving Heat Discount

Since the Heat’s season ended in April, Dion Waiters has expressed multiple times that he wants to stay in Miami, despite the fact that he’s opting out of his contract. On Sunday, Waiters went a step further, indicating on WSVN’s 7 Sports Xtra that he’d be open to the idea of accepting something of a hometown discount with the Heat, as Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel details.

“It depends,” Waiters said. “Yeah, I would, though. But, like I said, it depends, just being the right thing, at the right time. It’s just got to be right. It’s got to be equal.”

Since joining the Heat last year, and especially in recent weeks, Waiters has spoken about the idea of buying into the team’s culture, suggesting last month that once you buy into what the Heat are preaching, you start to see the results.

That mindset helped buoy Waiters to an impressive comeback season in 2016/17. A year after setting a career low in PPG (9.8) with Oklahoma City, Waiters averaged 15.8 PPG with career highs in APG (4.3) and 3PT% (.395) for the Heat. After earning about $3MM this past season, Waiters should be in line for a sizable raise.

With Chris Bosh‘s salary off their books, the Heat should have a nice chunk of cap room available this summer. Miami wants to re-sign both Waiters and fellow free agent James Johnson, who has also said he’s willing to consider taking a modest discount to stay with the Heat. If the club can lock up both players to slightly below-market deals, there could still be room to make another addition.

East Notes: Ball, Knicks, Caldwell-Pope

Any NBA team considering drafting Lonzo Ball later this month will do so knowing full well that the UCLA product comes part and parcel with his boisterous father. One Sixers executive, special adviser Jerry Colangelo, thinks that Lavar Ball could make things “challenging”.

Colangelo spoke with CBS Sports radio (h/t Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic) and discussed the point guard from the Sixers’ perspective. As critical as Colangelo was, however, he was sure to acknowledge Ball as a terrific prospect and said that teams wouldn’t likely bypass the player because of it.

Though it’s merely our speculation, the comments could be little more than a Sixers smokescreen, a common tactic in the weeks leading up to the draft. Philadelphia, of course, would benefit from the Lakers having second thoughts and opting against drafting the acclaimed prospect.

Just yesterday it was reported that Los Angeles was supposedly leaning against drafting Ball, with their interest in prospects Josh Jackson and De’Aaron Fox allegedly growing.

There’s more out of the East:

Dion Waiters To Decline Player Option

As expected, Dion Waiters intends to opt out of his 2017/18 player option, league sources tell Chris Haynes of ESPN. That means the 25-year-old guard who saw a resurgence this season will forego the guaranteed $3.2MM he had lined up with the Heat in order to test the open market.

Considering that Waiters put forth his most complete season as a professional this year, he is expected to yield a significant pay raise. The fifth-year player posted career highs with 4.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game while adding 15.8 points per contest.

Given the role that Pat Riley and the Heat played in the rejuvenation of his career and the stellar run that saw Miami fly from a 11-30 start to a near-playoff berth, Waiters is said to have an interest in returning to South Beach.

Whether or not the Heat prioritize retaining his services, however, is yet to be determined with some acknowledging that the organization could instead pursue an established star with their cap space this summer.

Heat Notes: Millsap, Griffin, Hayward, J. Johnson, Waiters

In another rousing edition of Ask Ira, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel discusses whether Pat Riley might pursue bigger names than Dion Waiters and James Johnson this offseason. In particular, might the Heat go after Paul Millsap and/or Gordon Hayward? Winderman concludes that, while he would not understate the likelihood of Riley and company engaging both Millsap and Hayward in free agency, the Heat may not have enough cap room to nab two elite free agents. If the team were to prioritize big-name free agents at the expense of Waiters and/or Johnson, it would likely raise its chances of signing a star player or two, but it may lose either or both of its key free agents from last season, depending on the timing of the decisions being made. Winderman also brings up the possibility, though a long shot, of augmenting Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside with “something far more potent.” Here are some more relevant team-specific notes:

  • In the same installment of Ask Ira, Winderman doubts Lauri Markkanen falling to the Heat at No. 14, but speculates that the team would pounce if he did. Winderman contends that his excellent outside shooting would fit a key need for the Heat and asserts that the Heat’s developmental program could adequately address the Arizona product’s defensive question marks.
  • Suns forward Jared Dudley sees the Heat as a Plan B for Blake Griffin in free agency this offseason, reports Ira Winderman. Dudley, Griffin’s former teammate with the Clippers, believes that Griffin’s top choice is to remain with the Clippers and that that is likely where he will end up. Miami is a “good city” in a place with no state tax and “the only case scenario” where Griffin will be able “to be the man on the team,” according to Dudley. Dudley made his comments on an ESPN podcast.
  • In a separate iteration of Ask Ira, Ira Winderman discusses Waiters’ proper pricing point, which he admits is “speculation” at this point. NBA insiders have told Winderman that Waiters’ hype may be exaggerated “considering the limited market last summer and the small sample size this past season due to injury.” Regardless, it takes just one suitor to set the market, and there is plenty of available cap space around the league.

Dion Waiters Wants To Remain With Heat

Dion Waiters holds a $3MM player option to remain with the Heat for the 2017/18 season. He’s likely to turn that down, but it doesn’t mean he’s looking for a new team.

“I want to be there,” Waiters said of Miami on The Hochman and Crowder Show on WQAM (h/t Anthony Chiang of the Palm Beach Post). “When that time comes and we sit down, we just got to make it happen. Let’s get it over with as quick as possible.”

The Philadelphia native cites “Heat culture” as a reason he wants to return to South Beach next season.

“The things that they preach to us and really speaking it into existence, and being able to really buy in and see the results,” Waiters added. “I think once you start seeing the results, you start to trust the process more. That was my whole thing. My thing was about seeing the results. When I listen and I’m locked in, you see the results. And as far as my body, just being able to maintain the weight that I lost to help my play was huge for me.”

Waiters had a productive year one in Miami. He scored 15.8 points per contest and Chaing envisions him signing a contract with annual values around $15MM. The shooting guard made just under $3MM this season and he’s made slightly under $20MM during his five-year career.

Miami can carve out approximately $38MM in cap room this summer. Pat Riley has been known to chase stars and if one wants to join the Heat on a max contract, the team wouldn’t have the flexibility to add Waiters on a lucrative deal. Despite the threat of a bigger fish joining the team, the 25-year-old is optimistic about his chances of returning to the franchise.

“I think I’ll be back [with the Heat],” Waiters said. “We just got to make it work and hopefully everything can come together full circle.”

Southeast Notes: Wall, Porter, Gortat, Waiters, Ball

During the Wizards‘ Game 7 loss to the Celtics, Washington’s bench was outscored 48 to 5. That glaring disparity was certainly not lost on John Wall, writes Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com. In fact, Wall’s last words before leaving the court Monday night were, “Forty-eight to five,” which he then repeated before departing with, “Our bench had five points.”

Here’s more out of the Southeast:

  • Despite the immense disappointment Wizards players are feeling after their Game 7 defeat, players expressed confidence that the team can continue to compete at a high level if it can keep its best players together. Otto Porter, a restricted free agent this offseason, is considered by teammates Wall, Bradley Beal, and Markieff Morris to be a vital part of the team’s core, reports Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. Morris tells Buckner that Porter is worth a max contract and he hopes that he gets it.
  • As reported earlier today, Marcin Gortat feels underappreciated by the Wizards and may request a trade.  More details and quotes on Gortat’s feelings can be found via Candace Buckner of The Washington Post.
  • Impeding Heat free agent Dion Waiters said that the Heat do not need Lonzo Ball because they are covered at the point guard position with Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson, and “other [players],”  reports Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Waiters also offered advice for Ball: “He’s got to go somewhere where he’s able to play his game. He’s got to go somewhere where he’s able to make mistakes. Because I think in this game today, he’s got to be able to make mistakes and have a coach who allows you to make mistakes, and you can learn from it.”
  • Luke Babbitt‘s future with the Heat is written about by Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Winderman concludes that, while Babbitt likely will not be an offseason priority for the Heat, the team will consider him because of his Bird Rights and skill set.

Southeast Notes: Morris, Heat, Draft, Batiste

Wizards forward Markieff Morris is suffering through a severe left ankle injury, but says there’s no chance it will prevent him from playing in Monday’s Game 7 against the Celtics, relays J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic. Morris was able to play 39 minutes in Game 6, putting up 16 points and 11 rebounds in a thrilling 92-91 victory. He has been fighting through the pain ever since landing on Al Horford‘s foot on a jump shot in Game 1 and hasn’t practiced since the injury. “I don’t shoot at all. I just go back to treatment every day,” Morris said. “It’s not swollen as much, but the pain is still there. It’s the worst injury I’ve ever had.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Heat should consider trading down in the draft if they don’t get lucky in Tuesday’s lottery, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. After barely missing the playoffs on a tie-breaker, Miami has the worst odds of any lottery team. The Heat have just a 0.5% chance to land the No. 1 pick and only a slightly better shot at slots two and three. While options such as Justin Jackson, Ivan Rabb, John Collins or T.J. Leaf might be tempting at No. 14, Winderman believes Miami would be better off trying to rebuild its draft future. The Heat owe their first-round picks in 2018 and 2021 to Phoenix and don’t have a second-round pick until 2022.
  • The Heat have some important contract dates in the next few weeks, Winderman notes in the same piece. Josh McRoberts, Dion Waiters and Willie Reed all have a June 29th deadline to decide whether to opt out for next season. Josh Richardson‘s $1,471,382 salary for 2017/18 becomes fully guaranteed a day later, as does Okaro White‘s $1,312,611 figure on July 1st. Winderman expects McRoberts to opt in for $6MM, Waiters and Reed to both opt out and the team to guarantee Richardson’s salary while getting White to defer his guarantee date.
  • The Hornets added Mike Batiste to their coaching staff this week, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. An opening was created when Patrick Ewing gave up his role as associate head coach to take over at Georgetown. Stephen Silas was promoted to lead assistant, and Batiste will become a regular assistant. Batiste played for the Grizzlies in 2002/03, but spent most of his career in Europe.

Heat Notes: J. Johnson, Waiters, Wade

James Johnson is an unrestricted free agent this offseason and teammate Tyler Johnson wants him back with the Heat, reports Anthony Chiang of the Palm Beach Post. Since last summer when James signed with the Heat, the pair have been inseparable.

While James has publicly made it clear that he wishes to remain with the Heat, Tyler, who himself is under contract for three more seasons, knows that anything can happen and ultimately wants the best for his close friend. James enjoyed a career season in 2016/2017, averaging 12.8 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3.6 APG, while shooting 47.9% coming off the bench in all but five of the 79 games he played (27.4 MPG).

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel contends that Dion Waiters is set to field contract offers big enough “to create pause when it comes to making the Heat salary-cap math work.” Winderman cites Waiters’ excellent final half of the 2016/2017 season as reason why he’ll be coveted in free agency, despite having drawn little interest a year ago.
  • Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes that a Dwyane Wade reunion with the Heat is a possibility. The Bulls front office has been noncommittal about whether it will look to trade Jimmy Butler, who was perhaps the biggest reason Wade signed with the Bulls in the first place. According to Jackson, while the Heat may lack the assets to appeal to the Bulls, Pat Riley will likely at least explore the possibility of a trade for Butler, if the Bulls are taking calls.
  • Furthermore, according to Jackson, a Wade associate has indicated that he would consider re-joining the Heat under the right conditions. The veteran guard hasn’t closed the door on accepting a bench role, and if Miami were to pursue him, it would likely be for a bench role — and at a reduced salary. Wade has yet to decide whether he will opt out of the final season of his contract with the Bulls.

Southeast Notes: Waiters, Johnson, Schroder

If the Heat are to retain James Johnson and Dion Waiters, it will likely be on short-term deals, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes in his weekly mailbag.

Both Johnson and Waiters saw their careers take off this season after years of bouncing around and each were instrumental in the Heat’s impressive push for an Eastern Conference playoff berth.

That said, while the pair seem to be a good fit with the Heat, the franchise will look to maintain flexibility by committing only to short-term deals. Eventually, Winderman writes, the club could explore signing them to a longer term deal when their Heat Bird Rights take effect.

Waiters averaged 15.8 points in 46 games for the Heat this season while Johnson added 12.8 points, 5.0 rebounds per game while providing a sense of toughness that fit the traditional Miami mold.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Although it’s easy to second guess decision in the NBA, Hawks owner Tony Ressler is careful not to when it comes to his own club’s contracts, Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. “The NBA is all about second-guessing,” Ressler said. “[…] Listen at the end of the day I’m going to argue that if you look at our payroll this year, I think we did OK. We had a $98 million payroll. We won 43 games. We are in the middle of the playoffs. We are really competitive.
  • Don’t expect Dion Waiters or James Johnson to give the Heat a discount during free agency, the Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman writes in a separate mailbag. Money, he says, always talks loudest when it comes to free agency.
  • In the postseason of his fourth campaign, Dennis Schroder is showing off just how dominant he can be. According to Hawks teammate Kent Bazemore, the 23-year-old’s playing style is eerily similar to that of Wizards guard (and current playoff opponent) John Wall‘s, Keely Diven of CSN Mid-Atlantic writes. “[He] is un-guarable regardless of if he’s making shots or not. He is one of the quickest guys in the league. He can get by anyone. He is a great finisher around the rim. He is growing, a young guard. He has a bright future ahead of him. Glad he’s my point guard. I would hate to guard that guy for 35 minutes.

Dion Waiters Discusses Heat, Thunder, Pat Riley

Dion Waiters can become a free agent this offseason by turning down his player option for next season. Even if he chooses that route, he hopes to return to Miami. “Hopefully, we found a home down here,” Waiter writes on The Players’ Tribune.

The Philadelphia native didn’t expect to sign with the Heat last summer. He was a free agent and heard that Miami was interested, but wasn’t sold on the fit. “I wasn’t really seeing it at first. Nothing against the Heat, but I didn’t know how I’d fit there,” Waiters writes. “Then I met Pat Riley.”

Waiters explains how Riley spoke with him about life and not just basketball during a free agent meeting. Riley also told him that if he came to Miami, the organization would get him in “world-class shape.” Waiters said he didn’t know it at the time, but now he realizes that taking the meeting with the Heat president was the best thing that happened to his basketball career. He writes:

When Pat said “world-class shape,” I thought it sounded cool, but in my head, I was like, Yeah, I got this. I’m in world-class shape. You already know. So I show up for camp, and after one week, my body is shot. I was damn near throwing up in trash cans like in the movies. And I realized, You know what? Pat was not just talking that smooth talk. This Heat thing is the real deal.

Miami came up one game short of making the playoffs after starting the season with a record of 11-30. Waiters believes that the Heat could have done serious damage as an eighth seed in the east, but regardless, he feels the season was special.

The Syracuse product also discusses how he enjoyed competing with Kevin Durant in practice and how he loved his Thunder team during the 2015/16 season. Waiters thought he was going to return to Oklahoma City after the team lost in the Western Conference Finals. “I genuinely thought I was going to be back in OKC this season, and we were going to make another run at it. But things didn’t work out that way, because basketball is a business,” he writes.

Waiters’ article is one of the publication’s best pieces and it’s worth a read. In addition to the aforementioned, he discusses his life growing up in Philadelphia, his younger basketball days, and his public persona, which includes the notion that he thinks he’s the best on the court and that he has irrational confidence.

“Listen, now you know where I’m from. Picture yourself walking into a South Philly playground at 12 years old, with [grown] men, bleachers packed with people, trying to get a run in.” Waiters writes. “You think you can survive in Philly without irrational confidence?”

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