Philadelphia 76ers: Signing Dion Waiters Won’t Make Sense

Mar 4, 2015; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dion Waiters (23) attempts a shot against Philadelphia 76ers center Nerlens Noel (4) during the second quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 4, 2015; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dion Waiters (23) attempts a shot against Philadelphia 76ers center Nerlens Noel (4) during the second quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports /

The Philadelphia 76ers shouldn’t be tempted to sign hometown kid Dion Waiters, as it restricts them from continuing their timeline.

The overdrawn topic of whether the Philadelphia 76ers are interested in signing Philly native Dion Waiters has been dragging out with the same rhetorics of “does he deserve a max contract” or “why not take a shot on him”.

The opinions vary across various NBA minds on whether the Philadelphia 76ers should go after Waiters, who was viewed as a pricey shooting guard option coming into free agency. The perception was Waiters would be highly sought after by mid to low-level teams looking to bolster their perimeter shooting. Thus far, Waiters has failed to sign anywhere and his offer from the Oklahoma City Thunder was rescinded, making him an unrestricted free agent.

This development actually bodes well in ways for both Waiters and the Philadelphia 76ers. If the team did want to sign him they may not have to give him a max deal to pry him away from Oklahoma City, and this makes Waiters a more attractive free agent target.

Without getting into on-court play just yet, it’s important to know the financials. The cap is projected to rise again next season to up over $100,000,000 as it capped at around $94,000,000 this season. The Philadelphia 76ers are already on the hook for around $72 million this offseason including the salary dump contract of Sasha Kaun, but will be clearing over $20 million dollars as the team will see Nerlens Noel become a restricted free agent. 

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Dion Waiters maximum salary could see him getting $23.5 million per year, likely being a four or five year excursion. That’s not to say the Philadelphia 76ers won’t be able to get him for under the max, maybe even a 2-year, $38 million contract if the market starts to waver on Waiters. For hypothetical reasons, let’s say that Waiters will get $40 million over two years.

Nerlens Noel becoming a restricted free agent becomes a major factor in this. If the projected cap rises as expected, Noel could be seeing a max salary of $25-27 million per year. Putting Waiters’ hypothetical contract on the books puts the Philadelphia 76ers with 2017-18 cap room somewhere around $40-50 million, varying with trades and the official number the cap rounds out to. This comes before signing Noel and the team’s draft picks.

The team could add two top 10-picks to their team, which could attribute $10-13 million dollars to the cap, and if the team does indeed decide to match any offer Noel receives, the Philadelphia 76ers could be left with cap-room that restricts them from signing a max-contract level player, if my calculations are correct.

Take away Waiters’ hypothetical 2-year, $40 million, and the team now has a better chance of chasing a C.J. McCollum, or a Gordon Hayward, and even allows the team to chase the pipe dream that is Russell Westbrook.

Financials not involved, Waiters still doesn’t make all that much sense for the Philadelphia 76ers. Waiters main forte is shooting, but he has had a career 3-point percentage of 33.4%. Granted his percentage went up in his two seasons with Oklahoma City, but Waiters has yet to show the any sort of marksmanship or beneficial contributions to the offense.

Waiters does tend to find himself breaking out in certain nights, when his shooting his own so is his scoring. Waiters will never be the focal point of the offense so paying him like one wouldn’t make sense. Add in the fact the team just gave new signee Gerald Henderson $18 million fully guaranteed over the next two seasons, and the team would be paying big money to two short-term solutions to a weakness.

Henderson can come in and give the team a serviceable quality of minutes for the Philadelphia 76ers at more of a value contract than Waiters. Waiters as a free shooter takes away from the main offense led by Ben Simmons and one of the three big men on the carousel. Waiters theoretically should pair well with Simmons in the drive and kick game, but Waiters streakiness makes him hard to bank on, especially at $20 million per year.

What you have to admire about Waiters is his yearn to play for his hometown Philadelphia 76ers. Rumors reported by Keith Pompey in November was that the only way Waiters would leave Oklahoma City was to play in Philadelphia on a max deal. When those rumors wavered, it seemed then like the team was the one interested in coming together on a deal. Those wavered, and in the latest news Waiters posted #TrustTheProcess on his Instagram.

Waiters later discounted that the post was aimed towards any involvement with the Philadelphia 76ers. The team and Dion Waiters just aren’t on the same timelines and money expectations.

Next: 2017 Sixers Big Board 1.0

The Philaelphia 76ers would be smart to hold off of Waiters this season, and aim for more prominent targets next free agency. Along with that, the team could find their next perimeter star in the loaded 2017 NBA Draft class.