Dion Waiters has not played a lot of basketball in the last year — just three games, in fact. But the veteran guard is ready for his fresh start with the Los Angeles Lakers, which he declared on social media on Monday night.
Waiters called out his haters and thanked his supporters in a strongly-worded Instagram post just over a week out from his debut in purple and gold.
“Loading…….. Big Cheese, for the ones that counted me out & prayed on my downfall no U turns this time around. & for the 1’s that was by my side Thank You let’s ball!!!”
His most notable hashtag? #BetOnYourSelfThenDoubleDown.
The Lakers signed Waiters in March, just before the season went on hold. Because of his limited time on the court before the signing — just three games with Miami — the Lakers played a 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.
Dion Waiters Says Lakers Have One Goal in Mind
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 joins his former teammate LeBron James in Los Angeles, albeit the two played together just 33 games in Cleveland. Soon after James returned to the Cavaliers, Waiters was dealt as part of a deal that brought JR Smith — his newest Lakers teammate — to Cleveland. Now, the two mercurial guards are key pieces of the Lakers thin guard rotation.
“I don’t know, it’s a little different,” Waiters told reporters last week. “I ain’t really never (had) a chance to play with JR. We’ve always played against each other and things like that, and we’re here now. We’ve got one goal in mind and that’s to win, so all that other stuff that happened like that, I don’t really remember.”
JR Smith, Dion Waiters Bring ‘Swag’ to Lakers Locker Room
Both Smith and Waiters have had tough stints in their NBA careers leading to expedited exits. But now in a Lakers locker room with strong leadership and a shared championship mentality, coach Frank Vogel expects the two to have a positive impact.
“They both bring toughness and swag. Those guys are killers,” Vogel said. “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’re being asked to come into an already-strong locker room where chemistry has been a strength of ours this year, and to fit in and contribute in a positive way. Every time you introduce a new personality into your group, it can alter your chemistry. Their goal is to come in here and make sure if it’s altered, it’s altered in a positive way.”
Vogel said he expects both Smith and Waiters to have a larger role in the rotation with both Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo out of the lineup.
“We’ve got two really good basketball players that we added late in our season that do different things, but equally as important, with JR (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,” Vogel told reporters shortly after it was announced Rondo had fractured his thumb. “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.”
Waiters is simply ready to get back on the court and get back to what he’s been doing his entire life.
“I’ve been here before,” Waiters said. “I’ve been in this position plenty of times. I think I’m ready to keep working, continuing to get familiar with the sets and things like that. … It’s just being ready. If my number is called, then just try to impact the game.”