The Brooklyn Nets have $36 million in cap space (this number will change to $31 million after the reported Greivis Vasquez signing), who else should the Nets target? One guy the Nets can consider is Dion Waiters.
Sunday went as badly as it possibly could have for the Brooklyn Nets, as they lost out on both Tyler Johnson and Allen Crabbe; the two restricted free agents that GM Sean Marks signed to big-money offer sheets.
The hottest name on the market at this point seems to be 24-year-old guard Dion Waiters. The talented, though inconsistent guard could be what the Nets are looking for. Waiters is a scoring wing who was drafted fourth overall by Cleveland in 2012. He was traded to Oklahoma City in 2014, where he became a key scorer off the bench. Waiters is undeniably talented, and possess the robust scoring ability the Nets currently lack on the wings. But is Waiters worth the risk?
Dion Waiters was incredibly valuable to the Thunder’s run in the playoffs, playing 31.3 minutes a game in the seven-game Western Conference finals. But the former top-five pick hasn’t garnered much interest from other teams as a restricted free agent.
For starters, Waiters is known to be inconsistent. He’s had plenty of opportunity throughout his career to be a featured guy, yet hasn’t quite lived up to the bill of the fourth overall pick. He was given the opportunity to be a key player on a Cavaliers team with LeBron James, but wasn’t able to play well enough to warrant keeping around, and was shipped off to Oklahoma City.
In Oklahoma City, Waiters played well at times as a key cog off the bench, coming into the game and scoring in bunches. And he certainly received a good amount of playing time – averaging nearly 28 minutes per game last season. But that was on a team with two of the world’s best scorers in Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, as well as a wealth of other talent. How would he fare when he’s the go-to guy on the wing, and potentially the second option offensively consistently?
He’s a streaky player, who throughout his career, hasn’t been terribly efficient. Waiters has shot just 41% from the field so far in his career, and 33% from three. In 2013-14, he shot 37% from three on 250 attempts; a rock solid mark. The following season? He shot under 30% from three on just four less attempts. That type of inconsistency has been a theme in Waiters’ young career.
Waiters holds solid career per 36 numbers: 16.3 points and 3.1 assists. Waiters possesses undeniably impressive talent, but with his inconsistency, does he warrant a large contract? Like Crabbe and Johnson, Waiters is a restricted free agent, giving Oklahoma City the opportunity to match any contract offered. As a result, Brooklyn will likely need to overpay in order to pry him away from the Thunder, especially after losing Durant to Golden State.
Sean Marks needs to carefully consider whether an offer sheet to Waiters is a path worth taking. The Nets clearly need a go-to scorer on the wing, and Waiters can potentially fill the void. But does the risk outweigh the potential reward? Is Waiters the type of guy you should give a big money, long-term contract to?
In my opinion, it depends on the contract. Waiters has enough scoring ability to warrant a hard look, and with Nets’ head coach Kenny Atkinson’s history of player development, he could be a good fit. However, with significant attached risk, Waiters might not be worth a contract on the level of one the Nets handed out to Tyler Johnson, and certainly not to the level of Crabbe. And it’s very likely that’s the type of contract offer it will take to steal Waiters away from Oklahoma City.
At some point, it has to become a seller’s market for Dion Waiters, who in four NBA seasons has averaged 12.8 points and 28.3 minutes a game.