ORLANDO – Miami Heat President Pat Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra flew to Los Angeles on Saturday to meet with guard Dion Waiters, sources confirmed to the Palm Beach Post.
The Heat are not the only team talking to Waiters, who is getting a little busier as the market starts to shrink.
Waiters, who had the best year of his career in his one season in Miami, has spoken to Chicago, New York and Sacramento, according to the Associated Press and had meetings scheduled for today in L. A. with teams besides the Heat.
Waiters also could return to the Heat but the expectation is that possibility remains tied to Miami’s pursuit of Gordon Hayward. If the Heat lands the Utah Jazz small forward and signs him to a max deal starting at $29.7 million, it is believed they will then re-sign power forward James Johnson, which, barring any trades, should leave the Heat with just a $4.3 million exception.
But Miami likely would turn to both Johnson and Waiters if it fails to sign Hayward, bringing back Waiters as its top scoring wing. In that case the Heat could have up to $17 million left over to add additional players.
Waiters said six weeks ago his preference is to return to the Heat.
“I want to be there,” Waiters told WQAM. “When that time comes and we sit down, we just got to make it happen. Let’s get it over with as quick as possible.
“We just got to make it work and hopefully everything can come full circle.”
Waiters made $2.9 million last season before declining a $3 million player option after averaging 15.8 points and 4.3 assists and playing much better in the second half of the season when the Heat were putting together the second-best record (30-11) in the league. What hurts the 25-year-old is he played in just 46 games, mostly due to a torn groin muscle early in the season and a sprained ankle that forced him to miss the final 13 games of the season. Miami was 7-6 in those final 13 games and missed out of the playoffs because of a tie-breaker.
J.J. Redick is the best shooting guard to sign. Although he was seeking a multi-year deal, Redick settled for one year from Philadelphia, albeit for $23 million. Waiters never was linked to the Sixers despite being from Philadelphia.
Waiters is among the best shooting guards remaining on the market along with Detroit’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Atlanta’s Tim Hardaway Jr., both of whom are restricted.