According to ESPN's Bobby Marks, there is "no resolution in sight when it comes to the future of Waiters with the Miami Heat," especially considering that the guard has been fined three times this season (costing him $1.4 million), has yet to play in the 2019-20 campaign and is owed $12.7 million in the 2020-21 term.
"The Waiters contract is as close to untradable that I have ever seen in the NBA," a league executive told Marks.
Additionally, the executives Marks spoke to believe "Waiters is untouchable when it comes to a trade," and all agreed that his career is "likely over."
Waiters, 28, was first suspended for the season opener in October because of an undisclosed reason. He was suspended for 10 games in November following a panic attack on a team plane after he ate THC edibles. The Miami then suspended him for six games in December for "failure to adhere to team policies, violation of team rules and continued insubordination," per ESPN News Services.
"It's unfortunate what's going on with him. The kid loves to hoop. What we're seeing right now is now that the game was taken away from him, he doesn't know how to deal with it. He came out and said that last year being hurt, trying to come back and live up to whatever these expectations were. He was disappointed in himself how he played last year. When he doesn't have hoop, he doesn't know how to navigate through this world."
And it appears as though Waiters has burned any remaining bridges in Miami. The problem for the Heat is that they are unlikely to part with any assets to move off the contract, per Marks, considering they are 21-8 and look like playoff contenders:
"Miami is not attaching Kendrick Nunn, Bam Adebayo, Duncan Robinson or Tyler Herro to incentivize a deal. Even if the Heat were willing to include a draft pick as a sweetener, they aren't allowed to trade a first-rounder this season.
"The Heat also are not taking back salary that stretches into the summer of 2021, as that would affect their plans to chase star free agents. That diminishes the possibility of waiving and stretching Waiters' 2020-21 contract (converting his deal to $4.2 million in each of the next three seasons)."
That leaves the Heat two options: Waive him and eat the $20.5 million he's owed on his contract, or keep him but separate him from the team, putting off any decisions about his future until the summer.
One option if they go the latter route is using the waive-and-stretch provision to release him. That provision allows a team to stretch the money owed to a player over double the years of his remaining contract, plus one additional year. So in essence, Miami could turn the $12.7 million it owes Waiters into $4.2 million stretched over the next three years.
That wouldn't be ideal since it would leave them with less cap flexibility heading into the critical summer of 2021, when superstars like Giannis Antetokounmpo could hit free agency. The Heat may prefer to eat the $12.7 million next year rather than stretch out those payments.
Waiters, meanwhile, likely won't be amenable to a buyout agreement, considering he'd be giving up a lot of money. Given his tarnished reputation around the NBA, he may not even be able to sign another contract after agreeing to a buyout, let alone matching the money he'd be giving up on his current deal.
That could mean not playing basketball for the next two seasons if the Heat are hellbent on keeping him out of the locker room. It appears things are heading in that direction.