Waiters responded to a post about the storied “Waiters Island” on Friday night, making a promise to his fans that it would be making a return as he debuts in the purple and gold.
“Soon the island will be back,” Waiters wrote on his Instagram, referencing the mythical island that usually refers to the best moments of his career.
The Lakers signed Waiters in March, just before the season went on hold. Waiters had played in just three games for the Heat before landing with LA, so the Lakers played the slow game in getting him ready for action. But thanks to COVID-19, that ended up being months later and now Waiters and the rest of the Lakers are looking to knock off some rust before pursing the franchise’s 17th NBA championship.
Head coach Frank Vogel expects Waiters and newly signed veteran sharpshooter JR Smith to play a role as the Lakers pursue the title, especially with Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley out.
“They both bring toughness and swag,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said of Smith and Waiters. “Those guys are killers. They go after it with great competitive spirit, and they have the talent to back it up and be highly productive on the court. They’ve proven that throughout their careers.”
Dion Waiters Will Have Bigger Role Following Rajon Rondo Injury
Bradley decided to stay home for the NBA restart to be with his family and Rondo fractured a thumb in practice last weekend. Waiters will likely be relied upon to provide some scoring in the second unit with the Lakers lacking guard depth.
“More will be needed in that regard [playmaking] from Alex (Caruso) and Quinn Cook,” Vogel said. “We have the ability to use our bigs like Kuz, and in particular having the ability to bring it up and handle and initiate offense. But I also like the prospects of seeing what Dion Waiters can do.
“We’ve got two really good basketball players that we added late in our season that do different things, but equally as important, with J.R. (Smith) being able to shoot from the perimeter and be a big time catch-and-shoot player, and Dion having the ability to make plays off the bounce. Losing Rondo puts more of a need on Dion’s skillset. I look forward to seeing what he can do more as we get into games, but all of those guys will pick up the slack.”
Dion Waiters Owned Up to Past Mistakes
Waiters was the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft. He has averaged 13.2 points for his career with the Cavaliers, Thunder and Heat. Waiters hit a rough patch this season with Miami, getting suspended for various incidents, the most notable being an incident with a THC edible. Waiters addressed the infamous moment during the hiatus in a Players’ Tribune article.
“The plane incident in Miami? It’s on me. I own that. It was idiotic on my behalf — point-blank, period. What’s crazy is, my whole life I been a leader,” Waiters wrote. “I’m not a follower. 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.”
The Heat also suspended Waiters for what they dubbed as “unprofessional conduct,” which included complaining on the bench during the preseason and not participating in a weigh-in. Waiters eventually landed in Memphis via trade near the deadline. The Grizzlies waived him and the Lakers were more than happy to scoop up Waiters shortly after.