Dion Waiters and LeBron James played together with the 2014-15 Cleveland Cavaliers. The partnership lasted only 33 games, as Waiters struggled to buy into his role as a supporting player alongside the former MVP and was summarily traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder as part of a midseason overhaul that brought Cleveland to the NBA Finals.
Now, five years later, Waiters and James are going to try it again. The Lakers will sign Waiters for the rest of the season, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. The roster spot opened up after the Lakers waived Troy Daniels on Sunday. According to Charania, the Lakers made it clear to Waiters and his agent, Rich Paul, that things must work out for the veteran guard as the team reserves the option to release him.
Waiters has hardly played this season due to a variety of incidents with the Miami Heat, but on the rare occasions in which he's been on the floor, he's had some positive moments. He scored 14 points in nearly leading the Heat to a comeback victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in his season debut. That kind of scoring spark is exactly what the Lakers are hoping for in signing him. When LeBron sits out, the Lakers' offense drops from a 114.1 Offensive Rating down to 105. Waiters, ideally, will help fix that.
But he doesn't come without risks. Waiters has been healthy this season, but played in only three games due to discipline from the Heat. On a team flight earlier this season, Waiters reportedly had a gummy-induced panic attack that forced the plane into a premature landing. He has also spoken out publicly against the team in regards to his role. With Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn all emerging as viable perimeter scoring threats, the Heat saw no further need to keep Waiters around. He was dealt to the Memphis Grizzlies at the trade deadline, and quickly agreed to a buyout from there.
The Lakers are aware of the risks involved in signing Waiters. They believe that the rewards outweigh them. Bench scoring was the biggest remaining need for the Lakers, and in Waiters, they may have just found their solution.