The Lakers have been quiet in free agency through two days, having discussions with several players and waiving Tarik Black, but that’s about it. No signings, not even any face to face meetings with potential additions. That last part, at least, is going to change on Sunday night, however:
Los Angeles Lakers have a meeting with free agent guard Dion Waiters tonight, a league source told Basketball Insiders.
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) July 3, 2017
Waiters is a former client of Lakers GM Rob Pelinka, so the meeting makes sense if only looking at it from that angle. Of course, it makes sense on other levels too.
The Lakers are terribly thin in the backcourt, with only rookies Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart along with Jordan Clarkson and David Nwaba as the only “guards” currently on the roster. Brandon Ingram can moonlight there some, but he’s more of a pure SF and, really, the hope would be he’d slide up to play some small-ball PF instead of sliding down to SG or PG for any minutes.
Beyond the depth issue, Waiters is good! Long viewed as an irrational confidence guy who didn’t seem to fit next to LeBron/Kyrie in Cleveland or Russ/Durant in OKC (and thus became disposable), Waiters thrived in Miami as a featured scorer and primary bucket getter. He got into tremendous condition, played hard, and did what he said he’d always do from the second he got into the league — take it to defenses from all over the floor.
Stylistically is iso heavy approach isn’t the most natural fit, but Waiters’ shot creation and ability to get a basket with the clock winding down or on a key, late possession would have a lot of value for a Lakers’ team that doesn’t have many guys who can do that competently at this point. I mean, if diagraming a set for a player to work in space to get his own shot right now you’d go to…Julius Randle or Jordan Clarkson. Maybe Brandon Ingram if he develops more scoring chops in his 2nd season. Waiters would instantly fill that role and would also take up a role he had in Miami with these Lakers.
Of course, a deal is not done and this is only a meeting. But when looking at the remaining guards/wings on the market, Waiters is one of (if not the) best options. So, the Lakers would do well to ink him, even if it would likely take up the majority — if not all — of their remaining cap space to get him to come on board for a one-year deal.
We’ll see how it goes, but considering this is the team’s first chance to “close” on a guy they like enough to meet with in person and when you add in the ties to Pelinka, I would hope the team has strong hand to play.