It didn’t take very long for the Memphis Grizzlies to decide that they weren’t going to keep Dion Waiters around. Only three days after acquiring the 28-year-old guard in the six-player deal that sent Andre Iguodala to the Miami Heat, the Grizzlies waived the man that once turned a 15.8 point-per-game season into a four-year, $52-million contract.
Waiters has shown that he can be a dangerous scorer throughout his career, but he has also proven to be a headache. Earlier this year, the Syracuse alum overdosed on cannabis gummies on Miami’s team plane. This came after Waiters had been suspended for conduct detrimental to the team. He had apparently been unhappy with his role in the organization, and he was even seen taking shots at teammate Tyler Herro on social media.
Waiters now finds himself in a position where he’ll be able to choose his next team. Rebuilding organizations are likely going to stay as far away from him as possible, but there are plenty of playoff teams that can use a player with his offensive prowess off the bench. Here are three teams that make the most sense for Waiters.
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Los Angeles Lakers
If the season ended today, Los Angeles would be the top seed in the Western Conference. The Lakers currently sit at an impressive 39-12, and both LeBron James and Anthony Davis are playing some incredible basketball. However, there’s no denying that Los Angeles can use some more help moving forward. The Lakers were in discussions with the New York Knicks on a trade for Marcus Morris earlier in the week, but the Los Angeles Clippers ended up snagging him instead. On top of that, the Rockets also traded Clint Capela in a deal that brought back Robert Covington. So while other teams were out there looking to improve, the Lakers were unable to do the same.
The good news for Los Angeles is that the buyout market can be quite helpful, and Waiters just so happens to be somebody that can make them better. While Danny Green has played some great two-way basketball this season, the Lakers can use a backup at shooting guard. Waiters would bring a much-needed scoring punch in the backcourt. And considering he’s not much of a defender, his biggest weakness would be somewhat masked with LeBron, Davis, JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard there to cover for him.
The fact that Waiters can also serve as a lead guard in short spurts would also help this team. Anybody that can do something to take things off LeBron’s plate would be increasing the chances that Los Angeles wins a championship.
As for Waiters’ attitude, one would think that the Lakers’ culture would help keep him in check a bit. But Miami’s organization is top-notch, so that’s really going to be up to Waiters. How badly does he want to change his reputation and continue contributing in a league he’s clearly good enough to be playing in?
The Sixers acquired some help on the wing at the trade deadline, as the team got both Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III from the Golden State Warriors. However, it’s worth mentioning that both players came extremely cheap and there’s no harm in Philadelphia bringing in another player that might be able to take them to the next level.
Waiters is a Philly guy through and through, so one would think there’s going to be some interest on both sides. And if he were to make his way to the Sixers, Waiters would likely play with a gigantic chip on his shoulder.
If the Sixers thought that bringing in a bench scorer like Burks was necessary three days ago, that means that perimeter scoring and playmaking on the wing was clearly a priority. When he’s at the top of his game, Waiters does nearly everything at a higher level than Burks. So why not bring him in and give him a shot? If it doesn’t work out, Philadelphia would be able to move on quickly.
The Mavericks are currently in seventh in the Western Conference, but a lot can change the rest of the way. However, if Dallas is going to move up in the standings, the team could use a guy like Waiters to provide a boost.
Luka Doncic has had a sensational season for the Mavericks, but he has struggled with injuries as well. Having a guy like Waiters that can create for himself would help when Doncic isn’t on the floor. Waiters would also give Rick Carlisle another option late in games. Carlisle has an uncanny ability to mix and match lineups to perfection, so he would likely welcome any players that possess as much talent as Waiters.
The fit between Waiters and Doncic might not make a lot of sense as a duo, but there is very clearly a way that Waiters’ presence can make Dallas a better basketball team.