Keeping Russell Westbrook comes at a huge cost for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The team recently rescinded their qualifying offer to Dion Waiters, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
The Thunder ditched Waiters in order to have enough cap space to extend Westbrook’s contract. The dynamic point guard will be an unrestricted free agent next summer. The Thunder just can’t afford losing two NBA superstars in back-to-back seasons.
As for Waiters, his ouster from the Thunder can be seen as a favorable unchaining. His youth and dependability make him an appealing target for teams with extra millions to spare. Among the potential free-agency destinations for Waiters include the Indiana Pacers, the Brooklyn Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers based on recent NBA rumors.
Hoops Habit pointed out that combo guard Monta Ellis had trouble co-existing with George Hill. The ball-dominant scorer is expected to have the same problems with newly-acquired point guard Jeff Teague.
Waiters is a younger and more team-oriented shooting guard than Ellis. The Pacers presently have $6.1 million in available cap space, as per Spotrac. The team could shed more cap space by dealing Ellis to another team.
According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Nets already met with Waiters in Las Vegas earlier this month. However, they did not offer him a deal right away.
After failing to snatch restricted free agents Tyler Johnson and Allen Crabbe, the Nets might revisit plans to sign Waiters. Having traded several future draft picks, building through the draft is not an option for the Nets. They have to rely on trades and free agency to acquire young talents to build around.
The 76ers are in the market for shooters. The team has enough cap space to sign its native son. Waiters was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He might be playing for his hometown crowd soon.
Waiters on Tuesday posted a workout video on his official Instagram account with the caption “#TRUSTTHEPROCESS.” Many believed Waiters was hinting his return to Philly.