Last summer, Dion Waiters let his $6,777,589 qualifying offer linger – until the Thunder, suddenly without Kevin Durant and wanting to renegotiate-and-extend Russell Westbrook, pulled it. Waiters settled in late July for a two-year, $5,926,410 contract with the Heat.
This year, Waiters – who’s a sure bet to decline his $3,028,410 player option – plans a more aggressive approach. And he wants to stay in Miami.
Waiters, via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:
“I want to get it done as quick as possible,” he said, hoping Heat longterm interest is mutual. “Let’s keep this thing rolling by any means. I don’t want to go into free agency with a couple days and make a decision. I don’t want that. I know where I want to be. Let’s just get it done. My mom loves it here. Would be mad at me [if I left]. My son loves it. My family loves it.”
The Heat could have major cap space if they waive Chris Bosh and get his salary removed from their team salary. If he plays 25 games with another team after that, though, his salary would again count for Miami. So, the Heat are essentially set up to spend big this summer. Rolling over the cap space is risked by a Bosh comeback.
Does Miami, a premier destination, want to use this one-time opportunity on locking up Waiters?
He has been awesome for the red-hot Heat, especially in crunch time, but beware of small samples. This is the type of stretch that induces mistakes by teams.
That said, Waiters is 25. Maybe he’s just coming into his own. You don’t want to lose a player like that.
If I were the Heat, I’d try to leverage his and his family’s happiness in Miami to re-sign him at a discount. But, given Waiters’ self-confidence, I doubt my initial offer would be enough to keep him from exploring the market. The Heat should hunt bigger stars first, even if that risks Waiters getting away.