Mailbag: Who are the Miami Heat’s biggest competitors for free agent Dion Waiters?

 

Will another team make Heat guard Dion Waiters and offer he cannot refuse? (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The Miami Heat have said they want him back. And guard Dion Waiters certainly has sent out strong signals he would like to return.

But will it happen?

That not only depends on the Heat’s offer but what other teams think of Waiters, and if anybody makes him an offer he cannot refuse.

Who could that be? We answer that and more in today’s Heat mailbag. If you weren’t able to ask a question this week, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter (@Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44).

From @SrMayo1: Do you see any teams with a big enough need at the 2 to offer (Dion Waiters) $18 million plus?

Even if the market is that high for Waiters (my guess is closer to $15 million a year), two teams come to mind:

The Lakers are overhauling their backcourt. They could take point guard Lonzo Ball with the second overall pick and shooting guard Nick Young, who has been shopped the last few years, is expected to decline his player option for $5.6 million and become a free agent. Add to that the Lakers will have about $24 million in cap space and, most importantly, Waiters’ former agent, Rob Pelinka, is the Lakers new general manager. Pelinka is in a interesting situation. After having spent years trying to convince teams to pony up for his clients, now he will be trying to make deals with some of those same players to come to L.A. for less money than they’ll be seeking. But if Magic Johnson likes the idea of a Ball-Waiters backcourt it just might happen.

Philadelphia likely will be the only team with more money to spend than the Heat. The Sixers need help in the backcourt, are looking to boost their 3-point shooting and Waiters is from Philadelphia, having been born and raised there. J.J. Redick has been linked to the Sixers. Although Redick, 32, is seven years older than Waiters, Philadelphia reportedly is seeking more of a veteran presence in the backcourt, a player who has playoff experience. But if Redick is looking for a better situation the Sixers could make a run at Waiters.

From @AsherWildMan6: with the way teams want bigs that can shoot, how come John Collins from Wake doesn’t get much love for Heat pick? 6-10 forward that has proven to be a scorer. I’m not saying he is Draymond, but with McRoberts back, he can also play back up center and add the element of outside shooting which Whiteside does not have. Also assuming Reed walks.

A few mock drafts had Collins going to the Heat early but some have backed off and now only Bleacher Report is sticking to that projection. UCLA’s T.J. Leaf, Indiana’s OG Anunoby and Duke’s Harry Giles now appear to be the more popular choices for the Heat. And many see how Luke Babbitt stretched the floor as the starting power forward last year and think Leaf is a better fit because of his outside shooting. Collins still is in the mix but been showing up in the 15-18 range more.

Also, I think a lot depends on who the Heat are more confident in re-signing among James Johnson and Waiters as to whether they draft a wing or a power forward. If they are confident they can sign both I believe they will pick the player they believe is the best among those from those two positions.

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