July 22, 2012
By Joe Kotoch
As the Las Vegas Summer League concludes Cavs rookie SG Dion Waiters has essentially been shut down with a knee injury sustained during play earlier this week. Cleveland GM Chris Grant and his staff stuck their neck out on Waiters when they reached for him at 4, a spot significantly higher than many expected for Waiters. While the Cavs will say that the analytic statistics support Waiters being selected there and that they believe he could turn out to be the second best player in this draft down the road. Waiters professional career has started out with mixed results as he has been reportedly been dealing with an ankle injury, injured his knee in Summer League, and has been blocked an awful lot.
According to a source, Dion Waiters was in fact given a promise by the Phoenix Suns during the NBA Combine in June. As a result of the promise, Waiters and his agent decided to withdraw from the entire Combine and granted no interviews or workouts in Chicago or thereafter. On Draft night the Cavs pulled the trigger on Waiters after Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Bradley Beal were selected by Charlotte and Washington, respectively.
While most prospects work feverishly to improve their skills and conditioning during the NBA Draft process, Waiters did the exact opposite. Waiters returned to Las Vegas, he worked out at Impact Basketball and did not seem to have the same drive or work with the same intensity, according to a source. Waiters then flew back to Philadelphia where he spent a lot of his time.
With a lingering ankle issue and a knee injury that arose in Summer League, concerns about Waiters weight have begun to sprout up. Waiters college coach Jim Boeheim has said that Waiters is too heavy right now and must shed weight to gain explosion. Byron Scott, Waiters current coach, has said he wants Waiters to lose 10 pounds. Waiters weighs 223 pounds, according to a source.
An agent for a player, who has played with Waiters told Pro Basketball Draft, "He hated playing with Dion. Waiters was an prick, always demanding the ball and never running through the plays, often breaking them off to go one-on-one."
While watching Waiters play in Vegas, Waiters attempted to command the ball from PG Donald Sloan, who shook him off and continued running through the play that was called by coaches. As a result Waiters through down his hands in disgust, which was noticed by several media members. While many players on summer league rosters will not make final NBA rosters it is not a good sign that a rookie is already having issues blending in with his teammates.
With questions about conditioning, commitment to improving his skills, and being part of a team the Cavaliers front office has taken a huge risk. A risk that could pay off or could result in a purging of Chris Grant and his underlings. Only time will tell but time is becoming more precious.