In a recent article, NBA insiders Joe Vardon, Bill Oram, and Jason Lloyd of The Athletic talked about the brief but controversial stint of veteran shooting guard Dion Waiters on the Cleveland Cavaliers. Waiters, selected as the No. 4 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, was one of the young players that the Cavaliers tried to develop in the post-LeBron James era. However, though they were in the early phase of the rebuilding process at the time, it seems like James was the main reason why the Cavaliers decided to bring Waiters to Cleveland.
As Vardon, Oram, and Lloyd noted, via Kurt Helin of NBC Sports, the Cavaliers drafted the Syracuse Orange shooting guard with the hope that would be a “perfect fit” to their second unit if James ever considered returning to Cleveland.
“The Cavs selected Waiters in 2012 with LeBron’s eventual return to the team from Miami in mind, sources said, to the point where they effectively shut down Waiters’ pre-draft workouts with a promise of taking him. The team’s executives at the time thought Waiters would be a perfect fit off the bench if LeBron ever returned.”
After four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals and winning back-to-back NBA championship titles with the Miami Heat, James ended up rejoining the Cavaliers in the summer of 2014. Unfortunately, Waiters failed to turn into the player that the Cavaliers envisioned. Before the 2015 February NBA trade deadline, the Cavaliers decided to include the veteran shooting guard in the three-team deal that landed them veteran wingmen Iman Shumpert and JR Smith.
His stint in Cleveland wasn’t really destined to last, especially with his reported sour relationship with Kyrie Irving, whom the team drafted as the No. 1 overall pick in 2011. According to The Athletic, both guards “never got along” in Cleveland.
“The Cavs did eventually get a chance to see if that was right, but Waiters and the organization had already accumulated years of baggage because he and the team’s resident budding star, Kyrie Irving, never got along. Waiters and Irving always disliked each other, no matter how much the organization tried covering it.”
During the short time that they played together, Waiters reportedly couldn’t understand why most deep thinkers inside the Cavaliers’ organization thought that Irving, who won the 2012 Rookie of the Year, was better than him. As of now, it’s crystal-clear who is the better player between the two former Cavaliers guards.
One league executive who spoke to The Athletic also has an idea in mind why the Cavaliers decided to trade the veteran shooting guard for Smith in 2015. Compared to Smith, who has the potential to create trouble mostly off the court, the league executive claimed that former No. 4 overall pick was “f*cking us” on the court.