Miami HEAT: The Waiters Worry

So. It’s rebuilding time for the HEAT, where journeymen and NBA-hopefuls alike have brought their talents to South Beach. A far cry from the 2010 offseason when Pat Riley (or the players, depending on who’s asked) landed the “whales” LeBron James and Chris Bosh. In the years since, Riley’s become more akin to Captain Ahab than he’d probably be willing to admit. First, LeBron Ahab’ed Riley and bit his leg off before swimming back to Cleveland. Then, in full monomaniacal madness, Riley went after the next “whale” (read: Kevin Durant), but managed only to be dragged to the bottom of the ocean as Dwyane Wade made his way to Chicago.

030916-NBA-Thunder-OKC-Dion-Waiters-PI.vresize.1200.675.high.3
Newest member of the HEAT, guard Dion Waiters [Photo Credit: FoxSports.com]

Listen, I don’t blame Riley, but at some point along the journey to losing Wade, there was a failure of communication. Egos got in the way. (Again. As that’s probably what sent LeBron packing in the first place.) But that brings us to Dion Waiters. Wait, what?


The Waiters signing on Tuesday signaled an odd pivot during an already odd post-Wade signing spree. In the days after Wade agreed to sign with Chicago, Miami decided to add journeyman Wayne Ellington, Miami’s D-league affiliate standout Rodney McGruder, and match Brooklyn’s exorbitant $50 million offer sheet on Tyler Johnson. All this while having Josh Richardson waiting in the wings as a potential fill-in at the 2-guard spot. Part of what makes this move odd is the sudden crowding of the backcourt, especially when you add point guards Goran Dragic and Briante Weber to the mix. But the most odd part about this is, in order to be an effective player, Waiters needs to play. Moreover, he’ll need the ball in his hands. If Miami is eyeing the future, and it considers Richardson, Johnson, and Justise Winslow as major parts of that future, the Waiters signing becomes worrisome.


The worry really comes when you consider he’s a ISO-heavy player with questions regarding shot selection and decision making. I mean, this is a guy who had his teammates at Syracuse call him “Kobe Wade.” Last season, he shot less than 40% from the field, but did average 11 PPG as a starter. (He actually shot worse as a starter than coming off the bench. So, yeah.) Inserting an ISO, ball-reliant player into a starting lineup that now belongs largely to a pace-pushing Goran Dragic seems counterintuitive. Also, if the team is investing time in players like Josh Richardson and (a lot of) money in players like Tyler Johnson, having Waiters take minutes from them doesn’t really make sense. Similarly, having Waiters on the floor with Justise Winslow might retard his growth as well.


The good thing is, the Waiters signing seems like a low-risk/high-reward investment. The contract is for two-years and nearly $6 million, with a player option for the second year. That’s not much money for a 24-year old former Top-5 draft pick. He’s coming off a decent showing in the playoffs and should be motivated to rehabilitate his market value for a potential big pay day next offseason. Maybe the team has no intention of keeping Tyler Johnson once his contract balloons to $19 million, either by trading him or hoping the new CBA has another amnesty provision. Maybe the team sees Waiters as a good fit with Briante Weber, a Patrick Beverly-type 3-and-D point guard who doesn’t really need the ball. Who knows? Maybe Waiters is a low-key whale. The one thing we don’t have to worry about with Waiters is his wearing Wade’s old #3. He’ll don #11, last worn by Dorell Wright. Waiters will join Chris Andersen, Skip-2-My-Lou Rafer Alston,  Todd Day, HEAT broadcaster John Crotty, and the General Sherman Douglas as some of the players who’ve worn #11.

sfl-dion-waiters-s072516
[Photo Credit: sun-sentinel.com]

The Relaunch

So. It’s been more than two years since I last post on this blog. Consistency has often been a problem for me, but for the better part of three years, I kept at it. My first post was published on February 5, 2011, and, from that date until April 20, 2014, I remained relatively consistent in my postings. Sure there were lags here and there, but, for the most part, I kept at it. Keeping at it hasn’t been my strong suit in life. I was determined to use the blog as a platform to develop and publish my writing, all in service of my larger goal to become a successful, traditionally published novelist. It was an okay run.


It was that larger goal that led me away from the blog. In late 2013, I decided to go back to school in pursuit of a master’s degree. It took me a little more than 3 years, but as I write this, my Master’s Degree in English and Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University is framed and displayed just over my left shoulder. On May 14th, I was selected as one of the University’s Outstanding Graduates. I officially graduated on June 1st with a 4.0 GPA. It’s the first time in my life I’ve ever been perfect at anything. It was pretty cool.


This leads me to my blog’s relaunch. I could call it a rebranding (since I’ve changed the site address and blog title), but I’ve done that already. Maybe I’ll borrow a term from WWE and call it a “brand extension.” I stopped working on the blog to pursue my master’s degree, because I couldn’t do both and be perfect at either. But now that I’ve graduated with my degree, it’s time to relaunch my efforts here. As one of my teachers in the Creative Writing department at FIU, John Dufresne, once said: “You have to sit your ass in the chair or nothing will get done.” Time to heed that advice. Here’s to a long and successful on ByDLFernandez.com.


13445543_1001306066591271_1307492435115797441_n
Me, my Degree, and @PeteyThePenmen of #SNHU