During the Lakers’ 118-109 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night, TNT sideline reporter Chris Haynes said on the broadcast that the Lakers were planning to meet with Waiters again next week (h/t Lakers Outsiders):
“League sources have told me that free agent guard Dion Waiters will meet with the Lakers on March the 2nd. There is some familiarity with the Lakers and Dion. Dion used to be repped by Rob Pelinka, the General Manager and President of the Lakers, so, there’s that, and LeBron James also played with Dion in Cleveland.”
The date of the meeting may give us some hint of the Lakers’ intent here. March 1 is the last date that a team can cut or buy out a player and let them remain playoff eligible for a new team, a team they’d only have to sign with by the end of the regular season to be allowed to play postseason basketball for.
Waiters doesn’t have to do anything by then — he’s already been bought out — but the Lakers may want to see what other options become available on March 1 before deciding to finalize their pursuit of Waiters at their meeting on March 2.
If a player they like more than Waiters doesn’t become available before the deadline, then the Lakers already have a meeting with a player they like for the next day. If another player they value more does get unexpectedly bought out or cut by their team, then at least they didn’t risk committing too early. That said, this leaves anyone the Lakers would theoretically let go for Waiters in a rough spot if they don’t also let that player go on March 1, or they wouldn’t be eligible to catch on with a playoff team for the postseason.
And whether the Lakers sign Waiters or another player, they’d have to cut someone from their current roster to make space for them, as they’re already at the league maximum of 15 players. The most likely candidate to be let go in that instance is probably Troy Daniels, but the Lakers surprised us by moving on from DeMarcus Cousins in order to add Markieff Morris, so it’s also possible they shock us again here. Or that they don’t add anyone.
It sounds like we’ll have a better idea of their intentions next week. Stay tuned.