When Dion Waiters was sent to Oklahoma City as part of the three-team trade that involved the Knicks and Cavaliers, he didn’t necessarily have a problem with being dealt.
He did, however, take exception to the trade’s timing.
As Cleveland was set to face the Sixers in Philadelphia — Waiters’ home town — Dion was expected to be in the starting lineup, playing in front of a whole host of family and friends. But as the deal was coming together, he was pulled, and ended up a very late scratch.
“They were calling the starting lineup up,” Waiters remembered. “I’m in my hometown Philly, everybody come out to see me play. I’m starting.”
But just as he was preparing to go out, Raja Bell, Cleveland’s director of player administration, tapped Waiters on the shoulder. He wouldn’t be starting. He wouldn’t be playing. He’d just been traded.
“Yeah, they said my name,” Waiters recalled. “I was literally about to walk out. And he comes up to me and said, ‘Listen, you’re about to be traded son.’ I said, ‘Huh? To where?’ It just happened so fast. He didn’t even know what was going on. I’m like ‘I can’t play? At least let me play.’”
Waiters said in the moment he was “bitter. Just a little bitter.” But once the news settled in and he discovered his future destination, he felt a lot better. He left the arena in the second quarter and went back to his hotel to prepare for a whirlwind couple days.
To be clear, Waiters doesn’t seem to have an issue with the trade itself. In theory, he still gets to play with a contender, and in his second game with Oklahoma City, he got more minutes off the bench than did Reggie Jackson, while finishing 7-of-14 shooting for 15 points.
Waiters is just 23 years old, and while he had his problems in Cleveland (which we discussed on this week’s podcast), the reality is that there’s plenty of time for him to turn into a productive and consistent player at the professional level. He isn’t complaining about being traded, but you can see why the timing of it all could have been a little upsetting.