Pat Riley says Dion Waiters is not worth the contract Riley’s Miami Heat just signed Waiters to. We’ll leave it up to you as to whether or not you personally think Waiters is worth less or more than the $2.9 million “room exception” Waiters agreed to earlier this week, but we can tell you that Pat Riley sees Waiters as a player far better than the $2.9 million he’ll play for in 2016-17.
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Riley said as much recently while introducing his newest swingman, one that will be counted on to help make up for the loss of veterans like Luol Deng and Joe Johnson, alongside the shocking departure of Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade.
“Dion is not a Room Exception player. He wanted to play for the Miami Heat and chose to forgo other more lucrative financial opportunities to be a part of our championship organization. We are very honored that he made the commitment to come to South Florida and sign with us. Dion is young, athletic and explosive, which fits in with our roster. He will add a great dimension for us at the off-guard spot. I really like the depth and versatility that we now have in our perimeter positions. Welcome aboard Dion!”
And Dion? Dion is ready to set sail:
A room exception at night is a sailor’s delight, apparently, and everyone seems happy with where they’re at.
Should they be?
Should Pat Riley be a little worried that Dion Waiters, a player that often seems to have a rather high opinion of Dion Waiters, would turn down more money to join a team that works out of South Beach? A team in desperate need of someone to launch lots and lots of shots after Wade, Johnson and Deng’s 34.7 combined points per game left town? Especially with Chris Bosh’s future with the team still in question, there’s only so much Wayne Ellington and Derrick Williams can add.
Waiters added 9.8 points per game on 39.9 percent shooting in 27 minutes per game (mostly) off the bench for the Oklahoma City Thunder last year. His defense improved and his habit of furiously waving his arms in anticipation of a pass … well, it didn’t completely go away, but it wasn’t the thrice per week affair it was in his three previous seasons. A lot of the dumb stuff still stuck around, though.
This is part of the reason why the Thunder, even in a market that paid Evan Turner over $70 million over four years, declined to offer Waiters the nearly $6.8 qualifying exception, making him an unrestricted free agent. Yes, the market dried up a bit in the weeks (we’re not even out of July, yet!) since the free agent bonanza hit in the wake of the increased salary cap at the beginning of the month, but for a former No. 4 overall pick who has shared a court with two former MVPs (LeBron James and Kevin Durant) and one near-MVP (Russell Westbrook) to sign for such a relatively paltry deal (his $3 million deal for 2017-18 is a player option he’ll no doubt turn down) says quite a bit about what the league thinks of Dion Waiters.
Pat Riley? He’s either talked himself into thinking that he procured a bargain, or he’s selling the Heat faithful on what could be a rough season. Especially coming after a 2015-16 turn that saw the team (which will not give Waiters Dwyane Wade’s not-yet-retired No. 3) just one win away from the Eastern Conference finals. It’s probably a combination of both, with a whole lot of “hey, Dion, you’re better than this. Get your [act] together this year.”
Dion Waiters has had unending chances to, since 2012, through various permutations regarding role, stature, and setting. He won’t turn 25 until the season’s second month, but the responsibility has hit.
Let’s see if his impact – which has a whole heck of a lot more to do than his points per game average – ends up being worth more than $2.9 million.
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