NBA Rumors: Lakers Reportedly Planning ‘Exploratory’ Talks With Dion Waiters

Dion Waiters, then with the Miami Heat, dribblers the ball during a game against the Charlotte Hornets.
Streeter Lecka / Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers may have chosen to stay inactive in the lead-up to last Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, but the team appears to be focusing on improving their roster through the free-agent market. With Darren Collison reportedly choosing to remain retired after briefly considering a comeback, it appears that their next target is shooting guard Dion Waiters, who was recently waived by the Memphis Grizzlies.

As noted by Bleacher Report, the above rumors were first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who tweeted on Sunday that the Lakers are planning an “exploratory conversation” with the 28-year-old Waiters. This came shortly after The Athletic‘s Shams Charania reported that the Grizzlies waived Waiters, just days after he was acquired for salary-matching purposes in the trade that sent Andre Iguodala to the Miami Heat.

Although it seems that the Lakers are trying to add a proven backcourt player who could shoot from outside and offer additional floor spacing, Waiters has had a difficult 2019-20 season where he saw very little action for the Heat and got suspended three times for various disciplinary issues. These included complaining about a lack of playing time, general “violations of team policy,” and a medical emergency that allegedly resulted from the consumption of cannabis-laced gummies.

Per Basketball-Reference, Waiters has averaged 13.2 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 2.8 assists while shooting 41.2 percent from the field and 34.8 percent from three-point range in eight NBA seasons. The former No. 4 overall draft pick was a key contributor for the Heat in the three seasons prior to the current one but averaged just 9.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, and one assist in 14 minutes in the three games before he was traded to the Grizzlies. Notably, he also played the first few years of his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers, teaming up with current Lakers star LeBron James for 33 games before getting traded midway into the 2014-15 season.

The Lakers’ rumored interest in Waiters comes several weeks after ESPN analyst and former NBA center Kendrick Perkins suggested that the veteran off-guard would be the “perfect” midseason acquisition for the team. At that time, however, he was still with the Heat and occasionally mentioned as a potential trade piece for pre-deadline deals.

In addition to Waiters, the Lakers are also considering other unsigned veterans as they try to surround superstars James and Anthony Davis with capable shooters. These include James’ former Cleveland teammate J.R. Smith, who last played for the Cavs in the 2018-19 season and is expected to be in Los Angeles for a workout within the coming weeks.