The Miami Heat first signed Dion Waiters back in 2016 after the face of the franchise, Dwyane Wade, joined with the Chicago Bulls. Then, Miami was two years removed from a Kawhi Leonard-led team ending their bid at a three-peat, prompting an unraveling that still affects the Heat today.
Now, a different Kawhi Leonard-led team stopped a Golden State Warriors attempt to three-peat. And for the Warriors, impending free agents Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson may each miss all of next season — even if they manage to re-sign them.
The Warriors will now look for players to fill in the offensive void that Durant and Thompson will leave. There aren’t many players better than those two, so Golden State may have to take a risk on a player. Could Golden State turn to Waiters as a stopgap scorer?
In a piece discussing free agency and trade targets the Warriors could explore, ESPN’s Kevin Pelton mentioned Waiters as a possibility. He said that Miami is looking to offload Waiters’ contract, which has two years remaining on it, and that the Warriors could push to get the Heat’s No. 13 pick in next week’s draft.
But ultimately, Pelton says that “The risk of acquiring Waiters would probably be too great.” Waiters is owed a $12.65 million salary for the 2020-21 season, making him more than one-year rental.
I wouldn’t want the Heat to trade their first-round draft pick, even if it would mean offloading Waiters’ contract. Miami is in this bad cap situation because they overpaid middling players like Waiters and James Johnson. Keeping first-round draft picks means that teams can develop promising players on rookie-scale contracts.
The Heat just need to sit tight and wait until these contracts come off the books. Continue developing young players to put themselves in position to attract a top-flight free agent in two years.