The Los Angeles Lakers watched another free agent target decide against going Hollywood after Dion Waiters signed a three-year deal with the Miami Heat. The Lakers have yet to sign anyone since free agency opened, electing to play it slow and safe in a market lacking the kind of options the team needs.
It’s not surprising that Waiters, fresh off a career year, elected to take the $52 million guaranteed over four years. That’s a nice contract for a player that played at what may ultimately be his peak, and with the Lakers only offering a one-year deal worth $17 million, as Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders reports, it’s not surprising he’s heading back to South Beach.
Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka have been clear that one of their directives in free agency was to retain the future cap space created by trading D’Angelo Russell, and by all accounts they are working under said goal.
The Lakers met with George Hill to discuss a one-year contract, and have now done the same with Waiters. Neither player bit on the opportunity, and now LA has approximately $17 million in cap space for the taking.
The problem for LA? The majority of players that could have filled the roster gaps they have — three-point shooting, depth at both guard positions, and defense — are off the board.
Both Waiters and Hill are the kinds of players that would have fit well with the kind of team the Lakers are building, and the kind of pieces they need. Both took longer-term deals as opposed to taking a larger single-season payday in Los Angeles, but the Lakers’ front office has proven just how committed they are to their 2018 free agency plan.