Dion Waiters grew up playing basketball in Philadelphia for the same league which brought you Mon'e Davis and the Taney Little League Baseball team which brief took over the sporting world two summers ago. He has also been known to throw a party or two around the Philadelphia area during the summer. And he's been known to come up in rumors that he will someday play in Philadelphia.
The Dion Waiters-to-Philadelphia rumors have existed almost from the starting point of his initial unhappiness with his role in Cleveland. Remember when he thought he was better than Kyrie Irving and got into an altercation with him in the locker room? The rumors are annoying yet hilarious, since Waiters is exactly the type of player die-hard fans loathe: ineffective with a bigger head than the trouble he's worth. But they're funny since they're so obviously sourced from one side and could never be a reasonable fit with what the Sixers are doing.
Let's begin with December 2013, almost two seasons ago. Jared Zwerling, writing for Bleacher Report at the time, described the situation as Waiters wanting out of Cleveland (more than a year before his trade to Oklahoma City) because the Cavs are Kyrie Irving's team. It also openly wondered why the Sixers would trade Evan Turner. It was a doozy of an article at the time; it only looks more ridiculous now.
Waiters could be intriguing to the Sixers because with his scoring ability, he could be a better fit to play alongside the pass-first Carter-Williams than the score-first Irving. He's also from Philadelphia and is a less expensive option than shooting guard Evan Turner, who has a qualifying offer of $8.7 million entering next summer. According to a source familiar with the Sixers front office, "They are cheap for everyone."
If Waiters was traded for Turner, the Sixers would only have to take on his rookie-scale contract, which expires in 2015 ($3.8 million and $4.1 million this season and next, respectively).
If the Sixers are interested, it will no doubt force a difficult decision. Turner, who's one of the most versatile young stars in the league, is having a breakout campaign, averaging 19.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and four assists per game. A source close to Turner believes the Sixers "love" the fourth-year shooting guard, but warned that the organization has "one of the most secretive front offices," so it's hard to tell what they're planning to do with him.
I've never laughed so hard. Just to top it off, let's see the Tweet of the century post-Turner trade again.
With Evan Turner on board Pacers will basically be unbeatable now.— Chris Martin Palmer (@ChrisPalmerNBA) February 20, 2014
Notably, the pick acquired in the Evan Turner trade was used to draft Luka Mitrovic 60th overall in the 2015 draft. His rights were traded away in the Sacramento salary dump over the summer. I'd give Nik Stauskas every opportunity to succeed just based off the series of events above.
Anyway, because this is the Never Ending Rumor, this resurfaced at the beginning of free agency in 2014 from Cavs front office shill Sam D'Amico for Fox Sports, whose sources are as reliable as a Jerami Grant jumper.
On top of all that, there are league-wide whispers of a third team perhaps getting involved in a potential Cavs-Wolves deal, whispers of the 76ers possessing a strong interest in Cavs guard Dion Waiters, whispers of another major transaction on the way
So here was rumor number two, buried in a post about the Cavs in the summer of reunion with LeBron James. The Sixers ultimately did involve themselves in the Andrew Wiggins trade, but only to acquire Luc Mbah a Moute, Alexey Shved, and a first round pick from the Timberwolves for Thaddeus Young. Waiters remained a Cavalier until the middle of last season, when he was traded to Oklahoma City as part of a series of events netting the Cavs J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Timofey Mozgov.
And now, we have a third report, from the Inquirer's Keith Pompey, about Waiters' desire to play with the Sixers. The report is as hilarious as it is juicy as it is frightening if it were ever to come to fruition.
Dion Waiters wants to play for the 76ers next season, says a source close to the Oklahoma City Thunder reserve guard.
"He wants to come home," said the source, noting that Waiters is from South Philly. "Plus, he knows that he could be the missing shooting guard they need. And he could possibility get a [very lucrative] contract with the Sixers."
The Sixers will have more cap space than most teams next summer.
The source said that Waiters won't acknowledge publically his desire to play for the Sixers because he's still under contract with the Thunder. He noted that Oklahoma City could ultimately decide where the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder plays next season.
Waiters responded with a denial, as he is wont (wnt?) to do: on Twitter.
Dnt Believe everything y'all hear lol I guess this what the world coming to smh especially if it didn't come from me.— Dionwaiters3 (@dionwaiters3) November 15, 2015
I dnt need or want the attention I never been that guy... I'm not worrying about money I'm chasing a championship wit my bros... #thunderUP— Dionwaiters3 (@dionwaiters3) November 15, 2015
I have a three questions:
1. If the Sixers weren't aggressive enough to acquire Waiters on his rookie-scale contract, how likely do you believe it is that the team would pursue Waiters in free agency?
2. In what world does Waiters or his representation believe he's a max-level player?
3. Who thinks renting an apartment downtown is a good way for Dion Waiters to "avoid distractions"?
Like the other rumors, there doesn't seem to be fire behind the smoke. Waiters seemingly misses being home in Philadelphia, which seems clear given all the rumors about a player of his caliber and a team this irrelevant in the grand scheme of NBA free agency. And I feel bad for him: Waiters wants to be around family and friends and it's hard to do that playing in towns across the country and living on the road for work.
But he also has an inflated sense of what he is: he's a scoring guard who doesn't do much else isn't worth the money it would take to bring him to Philadelphia, and his past only gives indication that he would not do well as a leader in a losing environment, and the Sixers should do run away from the opportunity to acquire him at full speed.