Dion Waiters

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.

Latest On The Andre Iguodala Trade

Negotiations are continuing in an effort to make the deal sending Andre Iguodala to Miami a three-way trade that would also enable the Heat to acquire Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

One way the Heat could facilitate trade talks is to remove protections on a lottery-protected 2023 first-round draft pick they owe to Oklahoma City, sources tell Wojnarowski (Twitter link). That would free up Miami to unconditionally trade its 2025 first-rounder, explains Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald (Twitter link).

Because of hard-cap restrictions, Miami will need to send out at least $39.8MM in salary to fit Iguodala ($17.2MM) and Gallinari ($22.6MM) on its roster, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link). He notes that Justise Winslow, who is already believed to be part of the deal, Dion Waiters and James Johnson add up to $40.4MM.

Johnson’s representatives tell Jackson that they are expecting their client to be included in the transaction, but several other teams have expressed interest as well (Twitter link). Jackson identifies the Bucks, Rockets and Timberwolves as teams that have inquired about the veteran forward.

Meanwhile, the Grizzlies held Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill out of Wednesday’s game in Dallas, and Dillon Brooks spoke after the game as if they were being traded, though that hasn’t been confirmed (video link via ESPN’s Tim MacMahon). Moving Crowder and Hill along with Iguodala would allow Memphis to take back up to $47MM+ in salary, if necessary.

In an interview with Marc J. Spears of the Undefeated, Iguodala said he plans to join the Heat and take his physical in Sacramento on Friday. He’s excited to be coming to Miami, but after not playing since June he isn’t sure when he’ll be ready to be activated (Twitter link).

Jimmy Butler is very well respected in terms of passion and hard work he brings to the game,” Iguodala said. “His temperament and values he has really resonates with the Heat. They’re very well aligned. He’s brought out the most in those young guys. Those are some of the guys I’m really excited about. I feel I can make the most impact with those guys. I’m a big fan of Bam [Adebayo]. … Really looking forward to playing with him. … Been hearing about him last couple of years. Help him get better. Really excited about that opportunity.”

Heat Notes: Butler, Injuries, Waiters, Battier

The latest injury concern for the Heat involves star forward Jimmy Butler, who sprained his ankle during the team’s home game against the Clippers on Friday, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes.

Miami is also currently dealing with injuries to primary ball-handlers Kendrick Nunn, Goran Dragic (calf) and Justise Winslow, making Butler’s absence a tougher pill to swallow.

“It’s a sprain,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said of Butler’s injury, as relayed by Winderman. “We’ll have to re-evaluate. I don’t even like commenting after sprained ankles. You have to wait until the next day to see how a guy feels. He’s getting treatment already and we’ll go from there.

“Same with Goran and K-Nunn. At least we have a couple of days before the next game and it’ll give them an opportunity to really get into the training room and get some treatment.”

Butler, Dragic, and Nunn are all listed as questionable to play on Monday against Orlando, with Bam Adebayo (ankle) probable and Winslow remaining out.

Miami is a half-game behind Toronto for the second-best record in the Eastern Conference at 31-14, sporting an impressive 20-2 record at home. Players such as Tyler Herro, Dion Waiters and James Johnson could receive more ball-handling responsibilities in the interim.

Here are some other notes out of Miami:

  • Dion Waiters has taken full responsibility for his three suspensions this season, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Waiters finished with 14 points in 18 minutes against the Clippers in his first game of the season on Friday, making key late-game plays on both ends of the court. “I’m a grown man,” Waiters said. “I don’t point fingers. I could easily say this and that, but at the end of the day, it’s me. I made immature decisions. So, you know, I take full responsibility.”
  • Ira Winderman ponders in a different Sun Sentinel article whether Waiters could become a trade chip for Miami before the February 6 deadline. Waiters will make $12.1MM this season and $12.65MM in 2020/21, currently serving as a third-string option at guard. During his tumultuous first half, he was viewed as virtually unmovable.
  • Winderman also examined the front office role of Shane Battier, who played with the Heat for three seasons and won two championships. Battier currently serves as Miami’s Director of Basketball Analytics and Development.

Dion Waiters Makes Impression In Season Debut

Injuries forced the Heat to give Dion Waiters his first playing time of this season Friday, and he responded with a performance that may result in more opportunities, writes David Wilson of The Miami Herald.

Waiters had 14 points and four rebounds in 18 minutes and nearly helped Miami pull off a comeback against the Clippers. He blocked a pair of late shots, then hit a 3-pointer with 34 seconds left that brought the Heat to within three points.

“He’s got big cajones, man, and you can definitely see it in his swagger,” Bam Adebayo said. “That’s what Dion’s all about: making the big shots, big plays and he’s built for those moments.”

Waiters’ chance came because Miami was short on wing players with Kendrick Nunn and Goran Dragic sidelined with injuries and Jimmy Butler leaving the game with a sprained ankle. There had been speculation that Waiters may not play at all this season because of off-the-court issues that included three separate suspensions. His contract, which carries a $12.65MM salary for next season, was considered virtually untradeable, and the Heat reportedly decided against trying to have it voided only because they didn’t want a confrontation with the players’ union.

Waiters now has a chance to escape the doghouse in Miami after learning that he would be active for Friday’s game when coach Erik Spoelstra sent him a FaceTime message earlier in the day. After the game, Spoelstra called him a “fearless” player who embraces the opportunity to make big plays. Waiters didn’t speak to the media, but is expected to be available following tomorrow’s practice.

“He definitely has been putting the work in behind the scenes. He has done his best to be a true professional,” Meyers Leonard said. “Had K-Nunn and Goran not been out, I don’t know if Dion comes in, but that’s part of being in the NBA. People get hurt, that’s when people get opportunities. People don’t play well and that’s when people get opportunities.”

Heat Notes: Winslow, Silva, Johnson, Adebayo

Justise Winslow is expected to see a back specialist this week after leaving the Heat during their current road trip, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Winslow missed 15 straight games with a lower-back bruise before playing 16 minutes Wednesday in Indiana. However, he didn’t play last night and was already ruled out of tomorrow’s game.

“It didn’t respond the way we would have liked, so we’re going to take a step back,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “But certainly we don’t feel comfortable.”

Injuries have limited Winslow to just 11 games in his first season after signing a three-year, $39MM extension. He is averaging 11.3 PPG, but shooting just 38.8% from the field. Most of his minutes have gone to Derrick Jones Jr.

There’s more from Miami:

  • Expect the Heat to convert Chris Silva‘s two-way contract into a multi-year deal this week, a source tells Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Silva is running out of NBA days on his current contract, and Tuesday is the first day that Miami can accommodate another player on a standard deal under its hard cap restrictions. The team may offer a contract three years or longer so it will have Bird rights on Silva, just as it did with Kendrick Nunn. Wednesday is the last day this season that players can be signed to two-way contracts, so the Heat will have to act quickly to lock up Silva’s replacement.
  • Team president Pat Riley took a positive tone in a recent meeting with James Johnson and Dion Waiters, Jackson writes in a separate story. Riley was hoping to point both players in a better direction after Johnson failed to meet conditioning standards in training camp and Waiters racked up three early-season suspensions. “It was just the three of us,” Johnson said. “It was heartfelt, all encouragement. He’s got our back. That meeting was one of our new leaf-turners. It was an eye opener but also a relief.” A source tells Jackson that the Heat have decided not to risk a battle with the players union by attempting to void Waiters’ contract.
  • Spurs coach Gregg Popovich provided some motivation with his message to Bam Adebayo when he was cut from the U.S. World Cup team this summer, Jackson relays in another piece. “He said I wasn’t ready,” Adebayo said. “Everybody has their opinions, so I guess it was his opinion I wasn’t ready.” A strong candidate for an All-Star berth, Adebayo will face Popovich and the Spurs on Wednesday.

Heat Notes: Butler, Waiters, Roster, Dragic

After a hard-fought 117-116 overtime win over his old Sixers team Saturday, the Heat’s new All-Star wing Jimmy Butler reflected on the mentality of this year’s much improved Miami squad, Ira Winderman of the Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.

“We can’t be happy with where we are,” Butler said. “Nobody in this locker room is, nobody in this organization is. We’ve got a couple of more levels to get this thing up before it gets real.”  

The Heat sit at 24-8, the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. They have won their last five games in a row.

In a separate piece for the Sun-Sentinel, Winderman notes that coach Erik Spoelstra is not concerned with Butler’s shooting percentages through 28 games this season. Butler is shooting 42.6% from the field and 27.6% from three-point range.

“It’s early in the season. It will level out,” Spoelstra noted. “I don’t even look at the field-goal percentage number. If you factor in free-throw attempts and free throws, he is one of the most efficient offensive basketball players in the league.”

Butler is connecting on 83% of his 9.4 free throw attempts per game.

There’s more out of South Beach:

  • Embattled Heat off-guard Dion Waiters has returned to practice, according to Khobi Price of the Florida Sun-Sentinel. He has yet to see on-court action this season, having been suspended three times thus far. Waiters has played just 120 of a possible 278 games during his stormy tenure in Miami, due to injuries and suspensions. The No. 4 pick in 2012 is currently in the third year of a fully-guaranteed four-year, $52MM contract he signed in the summer of 2017.
  • Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel spoke with an anonymous Eastern Conference NBA advance scout about how the Heat stack up against the top-seeded team in the East, the Bucks. “You have the best player in the league in Giannis [Antetokounmpo]. He’s really hard to stop. You really have to be solid in the middle,” the scout told Winderman. “I think Miami has the ability with [Bam] Adebayo and [Meyers] Leonard and some big guys. You can’t let him get into the middle.”
  • The Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang takes a look at the friendship and on-court chemistry blossoming between Butler and the Heat’s most recent All-Star, Goran Dragic, now their sixth man. Chiang observes that, across the 284 on-court minutes Butler and Dragic have shared this season, Miami has outscored opposing teams by 66 points. “[Dragic] is moving up on my all-time favorite teammates list,” Butler said.

Charania’s Latest: Holiday, Zion, Nuggets, Knicks

Earlier today, we passed along Shams Charania’s report of Dewayne Dedmon wanting out of Sacramento. The big man hasn’t played in eight of the last 10 games for the Kings and both sides believe that the situation is unsalvagable.

Charania also passed along other tidbits from around the league in his latest piece on The Athletic. Here are the highlights:

  • One of Jrue Holiday‘s priorities is being in a winning situation, a source tells Charania, and that’s not something the Pelicans are currently providing him. Rival teams believe that Holiday is the type of piece who would help lift a team to a new level. The Nuggets and Heat are believed to be possible destinations should David Griffin trade the point guard, Charania notes.
  • Zion Williamson is expected to begin contract drills and practices within the next week or two and the Pelicans want the No. 1 overall pick to continue to get leaner prior to his return. The franchise has focused on refining his eating habits as well. Charania adds the Pelicans “fully anticipate” Williamson playing this season.
  • The Nuggets are open to dealing Juan Hernangomez and Malik Beasley, though both players have high asking prices. Some rival executives expect the team to move both Hernangomez and Beasley, as each restricted free agent is expected to garner a lucrative deal in free agency.
  • The Heat have not closed the door on Dion Waiters playing for the team again. Pat Riley recently met with Waiters and James Johnson, making it clear to each that Miami would like to reintegrate both players into team activities.
  • Rival teams believe Dennis Smith Jr. would prefer a trade from the Knicks and several clubs have inquired about the point guard.
  • We’ve seen several G-League call ups this season and James Palmer Jr., who is playing for the Agua Caliente Clippers, could be next, Charania writes.