Dion Waiters Agrees to Contract with Lakers After Grizzlies Exit

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist

MIAMI, FLORIDA - JANUARY 28:  Dion Waiters #11 of the Miami Heat drives the ball up the court against the Boston Celtics during the first half at American Airlines Arena on January 28, 2020 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Veteran guard Dion Waiters has agreed to a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, the team announced Friday.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium first reported the news Thursday.

The deal will bind Waiters to the Lakers for the remainder of this season, but as Charania noted, Waiters will need to take advantage of his latest opportunity:

Shams Charania @ShamsCharania

Sources: Waiters, his agent Rich Paul and the Lakers had several conversations, they have been positive, and it's been made clear among all: This must work out for him -- otherwise, Lakers reserve the option to release him. https://t.co/rGL3xlxFvo

Stadium @Stadium

"This could be Waiters' final opportunity here." NBA Insider @ShamsCharania reports on the Lakers' agreement to sign Dion Waiters. https://t.co/MAKUoLb4Yl

Waiters was on the open market after being waived by the Memphis Grizzlies on Feb. 9.

The Grizzlies acquired the 28-year-old from the Miami Heat along with Justise Winslow and Gorgui Dieng for Andre Iguodala, Solomon Hill and Jae Crowder.

Memphis is overachieving and has a real shot of making the playoffs. Sitting in the eighth seed, the team owns a 3.5-game advantage on the ninth-place Portland Trail Blazers.

Although earning a postseason trip would be a pleasant surprise for the team, the front office is looking more toward the future.

Bleacher Report NBA @BR_NBA

Future looks bright for the Grizz: Ja Morant- Age 20 Justise Winslow- Age 23 Dillon Brooks- Age 24 Jaren Jackson Jr.- Age 20 Brandon Clarke- Age 23 Tyus Jones- Age 23 https://t.co/VA0eBCRQYA

Based on how his career has unfolded, Waiters probably wasn't the kind of player to add to a locker room full of younger players still in the development phase.

Waiters and Kyrie Irving clashed while playing together on the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the former publicly denied rumors they got into a fight in 2013.

His departure from Miami brought an end to a tumultuous final season with the Heat. He received a one-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team in October and a 10-game ban for the same reason in November.

ESPN's Brian Windhorst and Adrian Wojnarowski reported Waiters had a "panic attack" on a team flight after "consuming a THC-infused edible."

He made only three appearances for Miami this season before the Heat moved on.

Since his once-burdensome contract—he re-signed with the Heat for four years and $52 million in 2017—no longer factors into the equation, Waiters was bound to generate some interest following his departure from Memphis.

He's averaging 13.2 points per game over his career while shooting 41.2 percent from the field and 34.8 percent from beyond the arc. Occasionally, he has the kind of game that makes fans remember the potential that helped him become the No. 4 pick in the 2012 draft.

In addition to his issues away from the court and inconsistent scoring, though, Waiters hasn't played more than 46 games since the 2015-16 season. Every time he started building some forward momentum in South Beach, a new injury would sideline him.

Having expended so much to acquire Anthony Davis, the Lakers didn't have enough assets to swing a major trade prior to the deadline. They were unable to land Marcus Morris Sr., who instead headed to the Los Angeles Clippers.

As well, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Darren Collison decided to remain retired rather than return to the NBA to sign with the Lakers or Clippers.

Marc Stein of the New York Times reported Feb. 6 that Los Angeles planned to look at JR Smith, which showed how wide a net general manager Rob Pelinka was casting.

Waiters might be able to provide the instant scoring the Lakers have lacked at times this year, especially when they have to rest Anthony Davis or LeBron James.

Signing Waiters carries obvious risk for Los Angeles, but landing significant difference-makers at this stage of the season is nearly impossible. General managers largely look to the buyout market and free agency to improve around the margins rather than transforming their rosters.

If Waiters can enjoy a standout performance in a playoff game, he will have justified the Lakers' investment.