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.

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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.

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[Photo Credit: sun-sentinel.com]

NBA Finals: Miami Wins 2013 NBA Championship

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The Miami Heat won their 3rd NBA Championship on Thursday night. (Getty Images)

This one was for the blueprint. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh conspired to horde championships three years ago, and since then, they’ve done just that. While many a pundit opined to shatter the three-star mold, Miami’s stars rose to the occasion when called upon over the last two games of these NBA Finals, and delivered a second straight championship. LeBron James led the Heat with a 37-point, 12-rebound performance, and his jumper with 27.9 seconds remaining sealed the 95-88 victory for the Heat.

“This is what we came together for!” Dwyane Wade screamed during the jubilant post-game celebration.

“This team is amazing, and the vision that I had when I decided to come here is all coming true,” LeBron James said. “Through adversity, through everything we’ve been through, we’ve been able to persevere and to win back-to-back championships. It’s an unbelievable feeling.”

After Chris Bosh and Ray Allen rescued Miami’s season from the brink of elimination in Game 6, the tension of Game 7 picked up right where the previous contest had left off. Neither team could seize control of the game, as it was tied 11 times and the lead switched hands seven times. It wasn’t until the final minute of regulation that the Heat were able to cushion their margin.

“This was a tremendous game,” Heat head coach Erik Spolestra said. “It wouldn’t end any other way.”

While the end was in question throughout, when LeBron James stole Manu Ginobili’s pass with 23.8 seconds after a great defensive hedge from Chris Bosh, the team could finally exhale. And it was James’ brilliance, both defensively and from the perimeter, that paced his team. James hit five three-pointers and consistently buried the mid-range jumpers that the San Antonio Spurs were conceding to him, all while nearly erasing Tony Parker on the other end.

“I work on my game a lot throughout the offseason,” said James. “I put a lot of work into it and to be able to come out here and have the results happen out on the floor is the ultimate. The ultimate. I’m at a loss for words.”

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