The Miami Heat may have lost Dwyane Wade but they signed a player on Monday that once drew comparisons to their franchise superstar. According to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Heat have agreed to a two-year, nearly $6 million deal with Dion Waiters. The second year of the deal is a player option.
The Heat confirmed the signing Tuesday.
Pat Riley on Dion Waiters, with the signing now official: pic.twitter.com/JsB7grsP3L— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) July 26, 2016
Waiters, a former No. 4 overall pick, has now made brief stops in Cleveland and Oklahoma City. With the Thunder last season, Waiters averaged career-lows in points and assists. He did, however, shoot a career-high 36 percent from 3-point range and played well in the postseason, taking on a larger role defensively and playing smart offensively. Yet Waiters failed to parlay his playoff performance into a large payday this offseason and will now compete for minutes in Miami's young backcourt with Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson.
Here are three things to know about Waiters signing with the Heat:
1. Waiters made a costly mistake
In the immortal words of Heat super fan DJ Khaled, Waiters played himself. He could've accepted the Thunder's qualifying offer of $6.8 million per year at the start of free agency but instead believed he could receive a larger and longer deal elsewhere. Due to his hesitancy and perhaps in an effort to get Russell Westbrook to sign a long-term extension, Oklahoma City rescinded its offer on July 18.
Waiters though seemed destined to sign a sizable contract, especially since fellow free agent guards like Matthew Dellavedova got major money this summer. But after the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers passed on signing Waiters, his value on the market seemed to be drying up, which is likely why he signed with the Heat.
2. Is Waiters Miami's next reclamation project?
The Heat have done an excellent job in the past of developing players and putting them in the right situation that will benefit their game. One example is Hassan Whiteside, who the Heat brought up from the D-League and then evolved into one of the better shot blockers and rim protectors in the league. Could the same happen with Waiters in Miami? Who knows for sure now, but the Heat's track record when it comes to getting the best out of struggling but potential-filled players has been pretty good, which is a promising sign for both Waiters and the Heat.
3. Waiters is betting on himself, again
While a small money, two-year deal may be disappointing for Waiters, if he plays well in Miami, his stock will likely improve for free agency next summer. So it is quite possible that he can land that long-term deal he was seeking in a year.
Of course that is a big if.
Waiters will have to prove he can be a reliable player in Miami -- something he hasn't shown in Cleveland or Oklahoma City. And he may not even start as Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson may be ahead of him in the rotation.
But Waiters is just 24 years old and hasn't reached his prime yet so he has plenty of room for improvement. If he is able to rebound from yet another underachieving season, Waiters could be in line for another payday next summer after opting out. If not, Waiters will likely continue to be a journeyman guard, playing a minimal role off the bench for the rest of his career.