"The NBA is lucky I'm at home doing these damn articles."
Those were the words of Dion Waiters in a legendary and highly entertaining article he penned for the Player's Tribune in April. The article was chock full of anecdotes that better explained how Waiters came to be so damn confident. More important, the article reads like a five-star Yelp review of everything the Miami Heat stands for.
Waiters went out of his way in the article to make sure everyone knew that Miami is a different kind of franchise and that he owes a ton of credit to the organization for taking him from a player that surprisingly couldn't find a deal last offseason to one that is highly coveted in this year's free-agency period. The Heat makes players money. It's what they do. It's who they are. Sometimes the Heat pays those overachieving players to stay here, but sometimes the team looks for the next reclamation project instead.
Waiters now has a big say in whether he stays with the franchise that turned his career around. It would be a smart choice if he looked at the bigger picture and realized that leaving some money on the table to stay in Miami is the best decision. Even if he sacrifices a bit now to stay put, playing under Erik Spoelstra and Pat Riley is the safest way for him to earn more money in the future. When it comes to playing for an organization that dedicates itself to making players the best version of themselves, there is no place better for Waiters to play than Miami. It's a factory for success. That costs money sometimes in the short term.
Waiters is a 25-year-old shooting guard. Barring catastrophic injury, this won't be his last contract. Even if Waiters gives the Heat a hometown discount, he's sure to score enough money to secure his family's future. He's also already made nearly $20 million in his career. Waiters can choose to take the sure path toward bigger future contracts, in Miami or elsewhere if he stays with the Heat, or he can cash out right now and sign a bigger deal with a team like the Sacramento Kings. As much confidence as Waiters has, he has to know the smart bet is to stay with Miami and help the team try to lure players like Utah's Gordon Hayward.
Look, for instance, at Joe Johnson and Luol Deng, both older players who came to Miami broken-down and lost. Both saw a career rejuvenation in Miami that led to them making many millions more than they would have had they decided to play elsewhere. That's especially the case with Deng, who surprisingly decided in 2016 to play an additional year with the Heat. That ended up being a smart play. Waiters can start that trend now while he's young. Deng and Johnson got their last contract because of the Heat and its system. Waiters can cash in even bigger.
Stay in Miami, Dion. You bet on yourself last season, and the Miami Heat helped you cash in on that bet. Share some of the winnings with the team so you can both see future riches.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.