The Lakers plan to sign Dion Waiters on Friday to a minimum deal for the remainder of the season, according to people familiar with the deal but not authorized to speak publicly.
Waiters worked out for the team Monday and had a meeting with Lakers president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka, special advisor Kurt Rambis and coach Frank Vogel. According to a person familiar with the meeting, Waiters took responsibility for his past during the session. The Lakers ultimately felt that as long as Waiters is professional, he would be an asset to the team and help their scoring off the bench.
Waiters, 28, is a 6-foot-3 shooting guard who played in Miami from 2016 through the start of this season. The Heat traded him to Memphis last month and the Grizzlies immediately waived him. The end of his tenure with the Heat was rocky. Waiters was suspended three times in the fall for violations of team rules.
One of Waiters’ suspensions was for eating cannabis-infused gummies on the team plane and needing medical attention, according to the Associated Press. The incident occurred before a game against the Lakers.
Waiters played in only three games this season.
The Lakers also worked out veteran guard JR Smith, who met Monday with Pelinka and Vogel informally after his workout. Smith and Waiters are represented by Rich Paul, the founder of Klutch Sports who also represents LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and rookie Talen Horton-Tucker.
The Lakers were considering working out other players as they examined options to fill their final roster spot, but did not ultimately do so.
For most of the season, the team has carried a full roster of 15 players. When they signed Markieff Morris two weeks ago after the Detroit Pistons bought him out of his contract, they had to release DeMarcus Cousins.
The team released Troy Daniels, creating another opening on their roster. Vogel said that day that the team did not have any imminent plans to fill the spot, but March 1 is the league’s deadline for waiving a player and still allowing him to maintain his eligibility for the playoffs.
Once Daniels cleared waivers, he signed with the Denver Nuggets, who are in third place in the Western Conference.
But even as they cleared that spot they had the workout with Waiters scheduled. He was familiar to the Lakers not just because they are familiar with his current agent. Pelinka represented Waiters until spring 2017 when he became the Lakers’ general manager. That summer, the Lakers were interested in signing Waiters to a one-year deal, but Waiters remained with the Heat. That contract ultimately went to Caldwell-Pope.