What We Learned: Waiters Trade
Everyone had an opinion about Dion Waiters. Either you loved him, hated him, or a little bit of both depending on the day. The Cavs sent Waiters to OKC in part of a 3 team deal with the Knicks. The Cavs will receive J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, and the Thunders 1st round pick (heavily protected). Here’s what we learned from this trade.
• LeBron and Waiters didn’t really see eye to eye on anything. The Cavs wouldn’t have traded Waiters if they felt he could’ve worked it out here. The team reportedly consulted LeBron before making the decision. Which in my opinion is the right move. LeBron is the leader of the team on the court, if he can’t get along with LeBron than it wasn’t going to work. LeBron wanted to take Waiter’s game to new height like he said in his letter. It just didn’t happen like we hoped. Sorry Dion.
• The Cavs traded away their most valuable trade asset in Dion Waiters. The Cavs honestly don’t have many trade assets. We’re not trading away any of the big 3, and nobody really wants any of our other players. Nobody wants to trade a good player for Mike Miller or Delly. This was the Cavs best trade piece, and we traded him for Smith and Shumpert. Hopefully it works out.
• The Cavs believe Shumpert can help with perimeter defense. Shumpert isn’t going to light up the scoreboard anytime soon. He’s averaging 9 points a game this season in 24 starts. He was brought here for his defense, not his offense. Hopefully he can be the lockdown defender on the perimeter we need.
• Mike Miller’s days of starting are finally over! I love Mike Miller. I love how he can stretch the floor. I love the veteran leadership that he brings and he just seems like a great dude. I just don’t love him as a starter. Shumpert will likely take his place at starter when he comes back from his injury.
• The Cavs think J.R. Smith can replace Waiters’ production off the bench. Smith and Waiters are similar players. When they’re on they’re great, and when they aren’t they suck. Smith is only a couple years removed from being the 6th Man of the Year. Hopefully he can recapture some of that magic again for the Cavs. He’s only averaging 11 points a game this season. Hopefully Smith can provide that offensive spark Dion had been as of late and do it with efficiency. We all know how bad the second unit is at scoring. Waiters was the Cavs only consistent producer off the bench.
• The Cavs didn’t want to wait for this team to get good. The Cavs have traded away their last 3 first round picks. The Cavs aren’t old, but they’re getting older. I know Shempert and Love are still young, but this isn’t the direction I anticipated them going when LeBron came back.
• I love Dion Waiters, but he’s delusional. There are reports out there that he believed he was better than Kyrie Irving. I’m sorry Dion you’re good, but you’re not even close to the type of player Kyrie Irving is. Hopefully he doesn’t start telling people he’s better than Russell Westbrook. I don’t think that’ll work out for him either. He also refused Coach Blatt’s coaching and refused to become more of a catch and shoot guy. Resisting coaching and believing your better than the team’s star player doesn’t exactly help your chances of sticking around long-term.
• This may mean LeBron will be asked to play power forward. This could be the Cavs thinking in not trading for a big. They might want LeBron to play more of a 4 and have Thompson and Love rotate at center. This is nothing new to LeBron. Power forward is a position he excelled in the last couple years in Miami. Maybe the Cavs try some small ball.
• Dion Waiters is still up to his old tricks. He just announced that his new number on the Thunder is 23. Looks like LeBron may have some competition for who the best 23 in the league is. Or maybe not.
• Kevin Durant likes the trade. He said, “We’re gonna make him feel wanted. I don’t think he felt that the last couple years. He’s gonna fit in well. He’s gonna get comfortable real quick. It’s on the leaders — Russell, myself, Nick — to make him feel at home and feel special and let him play his game.” That’s something we never did in Cleveland. We never really made him feel welcome. From the never ending trade rumors, to fans calling in on talk radio complaining about Waiters. He never was truly accepted here. It’s a shame. KD went on to say, “I’m not saying he’s James’(Harden) replacement, we’re far past that. But, yeah, he can play, can come off the bench for us and score and make plays. He’s a really good player, man. A lot of people take him for granted.” I hope he fits in OKC.
• Waiters simply didn’t fit into what they’re doing here in Cleveland. He wasn’t a perfect fit even before LeBron came back. There were always rumors about him getting into arguments with teammates about sharing the ball (mainly Kyrie Irving) and having disagreements with coaches. He never quite found his place on the floor for any of the Cavs team, not just this one. He was never a cancer in the locker room though. You never heard of players disliking him (unlike reports of new Cavalier J.R. Smith). Mainly they were on the court problems. He never felt he was fully appreciated in Cleveland either, and I would agree with him. This is a move that will hopefully help both sides. A change of scenery could be exactly what Waiters needs in his career. I hope he becomes the player we all hoped he’d be in OKC. I loved the hustle that Waiters brought on a daily basis, it will be missed. I always thought he’d be the perfect bench player in a playoff series. It just wasn’t meant to be. Sorry Dion. Good luck in OKC!