The Los Angeles Lakers are gearing up for a deep playoff push by adding another capable veteran that can shore up their bench.
The team already made space by waiving sharpshooter Troy Daniels last Sunday. That final roster spot will be contested by Dion Waiters and J.R. Smith. Both mercurial players already worked out for the Purple and Gold on Monday, with LA likely to make their decision soon enough.
At first glance, it’s clear that at this point in their careers that Waiters is the better and more talented player of the two. The 28-year-old guard is relatively younger than the 34-year-old Smith. And although smaller than J.R., he is also the better defender between the two.
Welcoming Waiters in Los Angeles, however, also means taking on some excess baggage for the championship-seeking franchise.
Let’s take a closer look at three reasons as to why the Lakers should not sign Dion Waiters.
He has problems with authority
There’s no denying Waiters’ talent on the basketball court, particularly his ability to put up points in bunches. However, it’s his issues off the hardwood proven to be detrimental to his former teams.
The biggest elephant in the room regarding his potential signing will be the unacceptable attitude he displayed for the Miami Heat franchise. It did not matter if he played under two of the most respected figures in the league today in Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra and team president Pat Riley.
Waiters was suspended multiple times and even figured in a bizarre “THC infused-edible” episode on a team plane that cost him another 10 games.
The Syracuse-product was also displeased with the lack of playing time under Spoelstra. He will likely face those concerns once again under the Lakers’ deep rotation. The jury is still out if he finally learned his lesson and embrace whatever role will be given to him.
He did not fare well last time he played with James
To be fair, Waiters indeed looked like a blossoming star in his first two seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He even boldly proclaimed to being the second coming of Dwyane Wade during that stretch. That all changed in the 2014-15 season when LeBron James returned to Ohio.
Waiters’ numbers dropped across the board in his third year. His scoring average took a dip from 15.9 points to just 10.5, while his shooting percentage also plummeted to 40.4 percent from the field and a putrid 25.6 percent from past the arc.
After being deemed not a good fit around James, he did not even finish the season, eventually traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder that year.
Waiters is injury prone
Apart from missing a considerable amount of games due to suspensions, Waiters has also missed a lot of time due to numerous injuries. Waiters has not played more than 50 games in his last four seasons in the league, often due to season-ending injuries.
The Lakers will need some fresh legs to close out the season in hopes of resting some of their stars before the playoffs. Waiters must prove he can stay healthy for LA and be of use to the team when his number is called.
Waiters might cut into Caruso’s minutes
Perhaps another glaring concern will be Waiters’ role with the team. He is a capable ballhandler with a shoot-first mentality — identical to the team’s bench sparkplug Alex Caruso. The Lakers have been considerably better with him on the floor.
Waiters’ vast offensive repertoire will indeed come handy for the team, but his lack of familiarity with the roster might cause some chemistry issues moving forward.