He’s only played 14 minutes this season, was suspended for getting high on a cannabis gummy bear, and then waived by the Miami Heat but that hasn’t stopped eager Lakers fans from jumping aboard the ferry for Waiters Island.
In the midst of a tumultuous season like we’ve never seen before, why not buy a ticket to Waiters Island? Who could blame Lakers fans after they had the rug pulled out from beneath them just as their team had started rolling. Like Donald Trump, it’s hard for Lakers fans not to think of what might have been had the coronavirus pandemic not turned the world upside down and irrecoverably changed the competitive landscape they must now face.
Instead of just defeating their top two competitors and catapulting to the top of the league’s power rankings, the Lakers must now go on the road and endure an unprecedented season restart and playoffs in a Covid-19 bubble. The home court advantage they won, the momentum they created, and the starting and backup point guards they had have been lost, forcing them to regroup after months off to try to regain their lost chemistry and edge.
So why not take a flyer and embrace the mercurial 28-year old Waiters? The risk of buying a ticket to Waiters Island is at an all-time low but the winning prize could be a jackpot because the talent and potential are undeniable. With Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo out, Waiters has suddenly found himself in possession of the perfect opportunity to redeem what has been a roller coaster NBA career that appeared to be descending in total freefall.
A natural born scorer who plays with “toughness and swag” and has the ball skills to get his own shot or get the ball to an open shooter off the bounce, Dion’s exactly what the Lakers’ offense needs when LeBron’s on the bench. Drafted fourth by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2012, there’s no question about Waiters’ talent and potential. The issue’s always been controlling his brash immaturity and self absorbed personality and fitting on a team.
Much like new teammate Dwight Howard, the Lakers may be Waiters’ last chance to redeem his dizzying and careening NBA career. To succeed, Dion will have to rewrite the history of his playing relationship with LeBron. Hopefully, he’ll take a page out of Dwight’s book and focus on embracing the role the Lakers need him to play rather than reverting back to old habits and being the temperamental gunner who only cares about his own stats.
The disappointing experience in Miami plus the Lakers’ unified front office, coaching, and superstar leadership and strong team chemistry should give Waiters an opportunity to help the team now and carve out a future role. Dion’s been saying the right things, accepting responsibility for the mistakes in Miami, taking advantage of the opportunity with the Lakers by shining in practice, and promising his fans that Waiters Island soon “will be back.”