This offseason, Dion Waiters is a restricted free agent, meaning that the OKC Thunder can choose whether to exercise the option and bring him back next season, or allow him to test free agency.
Many people question Waiters’ ability both on and off the court. While he is a proven scorer in the NBA, he is very streaky. On offense, he can miss shot after shot but when he starts making them, he’s nearly impossible to stop. Off the court, in the locker room, he has often been labeled as a distractor, one that fights with other teammates. During the NBA playoffs, tensions between Waiters and Durant seemed to be boiling, showing up on the court as well.
On the other hand, he was OKC’s main source of offense off the bench for the majority of the season, and aforementioned, when he is in the zone, he is not guard-able.
Currently Dion Waiters the Thunder have offered Waiters an qualifying offer meaning they have the right to match any offer that a team gives to him. While Waiters has been out looking around for another offer he has yet to receive one. Word around the league is that the Kings are interested in him and the Heat are too. Until one of those teams makes a move for Waiters though, the Thunder are in control.
So the majority of the decision comes down to his contract. If the option were exercised, the Thunder would pay Waiters north of six million dollars. Other than scoring, Waiters fails to make a large enough impact on the court to warrant that kind of a paycheck. In the 2015-16 season, he averaged nearly as many turnovers per game as assists per game.
Additionally, his inconsistency is shown as he averaged fewer than 40% from the field and 30% from deep throughout the course of the season. In the playoffs, the Thunder went away from Waiters, leading to many wins, and he ended up averaging only eight points in 27 minutes per game. If Dion is willing to accept a mentality where he need not shoot every position, then he would be a good addition.
The best option for OKC may be a combination of the two. Instead, we can exercise his option and offer him less money than he is making currently. The contract could be appealing to Dion if it included a contingency that would give Waiters additional money if he controls his FGA per game or limited his turnovers (similar to Anthony Davis’ contract, where he gets a bonus if he makes any of the three all-nba teams).