Dion Waiters isn’t really clever though he probably disputes this. He probably thinks he’s the sharpest knife in the drawer. But the evidence says something different. The wrong he did to find himself, perhaps out of Miami for good, was to say he was sick when he was cruising on a boat. Because he just can’t help himself, Waiters posted a picture of himself on said boat. Before we say stupid is as stupid does, is anyone surprised that Dion Waiters is speeding down the road of no return? The union is appealing on his behalf and I’d love to hear the legal argument that invalidates deliberately lying to his employer and casually bragging about the lie.
As for Waiters, he is a pro at this. He takes immaturity to a Herculean level. Just this year he has complained while being on the bench, was reckless on social media, ingested enough of a cannabis edible to get sick on the team plane, didn’t weigh in which is a Riley must. Whenever basketball has been taken away from him, Waiters can’t adult in the world. He can’t quiet his mind. In the real world, we call that immaturity.
Seven years ago, Waiters entered the draft with a lot of optimism and hope. He was a part of the Anthony Davis draft and was selected fourth by Cleveland who was just miserable without LeBron James and needed offense. The season before Waiters was drafted, the Cavs were 25th in scoring and their best shooting guard was Alonzo Gee who averaged 11 points a game.
Waiters first season, he eclipsed Alonzo Gee with 15 points and 28 minutes a game. The next season, he was up to 16 points a game and 36% from three. He was traded in year three to OKC and it began the Dion Waiters carousel. He could make shots and loved performing in the clutch. He had that arrogant shooting guard thing going. But he wasn’t mature. His defense was spotty. And he was lacking in team intangibles.
A year and a half in OKC and he signed with Miami as a free agent but he could never stay healthy. The most he played was 46 games in his first year. Then 30 games. Last year, it was 44 games.
Frustrated whenever basketball is taken away from him, Waiters struggles at invisibility. Because he was drafted number 4 in 2012, the expectation was Waiters would be an All-Star. The league has exposed Waiters though. He is a good enough scorer but undersized and lacking the versatility and talent of an All-Star.
Damian Lillard was taken 6th, two slots after Waiters, and Heat fans can only dream of if they had selected Lillard from small school Weber State instead of playing it safe and drafting one of Jim Boeheim’s players.
The problem this year with Waiters being his own worst enemy is that this Heat team doesn’t need him and perhaps that is what has him in a funk. Miami can buy him out and forget he ever existed. Once Jimmy Butler signed up, the Heat team altered their identity. They are still tough and hardnose and defensive. But with Butler incentivizing Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn, Dion Waiters is irrelevant. There were NBA fans who didn’t even know Waiters was in the league anymore until Riles suspended him for the boat thing.
Timing matters. Three years ago, the Heat without Dwyane Wade was a perfect team for Dion Waiters. He could be the closer and star. All eyes were on him. But Jimmy Butler is a legitimate star, not someone who just makes shots on a bad team. Where does Waiters fit?
Kendrick Nunn was a steal for Riles and he has taken Waiters place beautifully. Riley has little patience for soldiers who don’t want to soldier. Is he on the phone trying to pretty up Waiters in order to trade him? You bet he is. If that fails, Riles will buy him out because of the math. No one makes a fool out of Pat Riley. The cap hit for the buyout is small change considering what Riley had to face after Bosh’s blood clots.
Waiters last game was eight months ago in Brooklyn. He didn’t score and he only played 8 minutes. It was Wade’s last game and a love fest. Waiters and his lack of minutes and production was barely noticed. Wade is gone but not much has changed.
Dion Waiters is missing. And not many notice.