Dion Waiters inked his deal with the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, but, understandably, Frank Vogel decided not to play him against the Milwaukee Bucks. When Waiters eventually plays again, it will be his first game since Jan. 28. While that’s obviously not as long as someone like J.R. Smith has been out, it’s still a good amount of time, especially when you consider that he only appeared in three games for the Miami Heat.
It’s for that reason Frank Vogel told reporters after practice on Saturday that Waiters won’t play against the LA Clippers on Sunday, and he doesn’t anticipate that the 28-year-old guard will make his debut in the immediate future.
Frank Vogel says “it’s probably going to be a few games” before Dion Waiters gets in for the Lakers. Mentions that he didn’t play much with Miami this season so he needs sometime. So no Dion on Sunday against the Clippers.— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) March 7, 2020
No Dion Waiters for the Lakers tomorrow against the Clippers. Frank Vogel said it will be a few games given that he hasn’t played most of the year.— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) March 7, 2020
What’s ironic is that Waiters’ best performance of the season came against the Clippers on Jan. 24. The Heat lost the game, but Waiters did everything he could to make sure they didn’t and scored eight of his 14 points in the fourth quarter. He also got two big blocks on Louis Williams in the clutch.
Waiters could probably help the Lakers in a similar way on Sunday, but it seems like the team wants to make sure they get things exactly right with Waiters, as they used their final roster spot to sign him. Luckily, it sounds like both parties are on the same page, as Waiters told reporters that he wants to take his time, too (via Lakers.com):
“I’m just trying to get my feet wet and get back into the rhythm of things like that, and figure out the plays, and still get to know the guys.”I knew most of the guys. We all grew up on AAU circuits and things like that, so it wasn’t hard for me. It was easy for me to just come in here and be myself — I don’t need to be nobody I’m not. They opened the doors for me, welcomed me in with open arms, so it’s been smooth — like, really, really good.”
Obviously Lakers fans are anxious to see how Waiters fits with the team, but it’s not like the team is desperate for him to come in and contribute right away. The Lakers clinched their spot in the postseason on Friday and are 5.5 games ahead of the No. 2 seed Clippers in the Western Conference standings — they’re fine.
When the time comes, though, it will be interesting to see how much Waiters diversifies the second unit and where his minutes will be pulled from. There are a few guesses that can be made, but no one will know for sure for a little while longer.
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