The Los Angeles Lakers should sign Dion Waiters
It is a close call and J.R. Smith’s familiarity with LeBron James is definitely going to make this decision tough to make for the Los Angeles Lakers, but at the end of the day, the player with more upside is Dion Waiters.
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Waiters’ ability to serve as a second playmaker behind LeBron James and potentially take some minutes away from Rajon Rondo is a huge aspect in this signing. While Rondo often takes it up a level when he is in “playoff mode,” he has not done anything this season to earn the benefit of the doubt.
Sure, there is the concern that he could be a ball-stopper and be too ball-dominant when he is on the floor with LeBron but that is the problem that Rondo has playing alongside LeBron. Plus, Waiters knows what he is getting into and is going to do whatever it takes not only to get a job but to contend for a title, so I think that won’t be an issue.
The same concerns were raised with Dwight Howard but the culture and brotherhood of the team have proven that Howard can still contribute when he buys into a lesser role and that is exactly what has happened.
If the Lakers can turn Howard into a productive player without headaches then they can do the same for Waiters. Right now, Waiters is the better all-around player, and while he might not fit as cleanly as a spot-up shooter as Smith, his defense alone can swing the argument.
Either way, both Waiters and Smith are going carry some of that off-the-court headache narrative, so the Lakers might as well go with the better all-around player.
Waiters is younger, is more versatile and has a bigger chance of succeeding at this point in his career than Smith.