How Dion Waiters to Oklahoma City affects the Clippers


Not a day goes by where the Western Conference doesn’t attempt to better itself.

Within the last month, we’ve seen the Dallas Mavericks trade for Rajon Rondo, the Houston Rockets acquire Josh Smith after a Detroit buyout and now the Oklahoma City Thunder have acquired former Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard Dion Waiters.

If you’re unaware of the three-team trade that sent Waiters to OKC, here are the details:

Oklahoma City receives: G Dion Waiters
New York receives: F Lance Thomas, C Alex Kirk, F Lou Amundson, CLE 2019 second-rounder
Cleveland receives: G Iman Shumpert, G J.R. Smith, OKC 2015 first-rounder (top-18 protected)

Quite the deal right? I’ll break this off into two segments: my initial thoughts on the trade and how the deal affects the Clippers.


Cleveland: If there was a list of things I expected to occur going into the season, high up on the list would be the Cavaliers eventually trading Dion Waiters. With LeBron, Kyrie and Love in the picture, offense isn’t an issue (how that offense is gotten is another issue). This team needed perimeter defenders, floor-spacers, and rim protectors. By acquiring Shumpert, they’ve hit one of those: perimeter defense — if he’s healthy, Shumpert is one of the best 3-and-D players in the NBA.

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  • The Smith part? They don’t get Shump without taking back a bad deal and J.R. was what NY wanted to give up. Personally, I think Smith is a better Waiters. The best-case scenario here is the Cavaliers get more of Nuggets J.R. than Knicks J.R. and in the off-season, he opts out of his deal leaving the Cavs with more money to bolster the supporting cast.

    The best part of this deal for CLE, imo, is the Thunder pick. Waiters was a decent trade asset, but he wasn’t that good and it looks like teams have figured that out. Instead, the Cavaliers can combine their MEM pick with the OKC pick to try and pry away a defensive-minded big. If they don’t make a move this season, those two picks plus Brendan Haywood‘s big expiring has the potential to land a center in the summer.

    New York: My feeling could easily change on this portion of the deal, but at this moment, I don’t like it. What basically happened here was the Knicks used Shumpert to find a team that’s willing to take on J.R. Smith‘s deal.

    The Smith situation in New York may have been worse than I realize in terms of how he impacts the growing culture and locker room, but I don’t think Smith was bad enough, both production wise and contract wise, to move Shumpert for virtually nothing. There’s a general idea that Shumpert’s value around the league has plummeted due to injury and failure to grow in his previous role, but if Dion Waiters can get moved for a (protected) first-rounder, I’m sure the same could’ve been done for Shump.

    Oklahoma City: We’ve seen this story before. The precursor? The James Harden deal. The Thunder obviously don’t want to pay Reggie Jackson when he hits free agency and getting Dion Waiters for a protected pick helps soften the blow when Jackson leaves/is traded.

    Here’s my lone issue: for the same price the Thunder acquired Waiters, they could’ve swallowed Iman Shumpert‘s deal in their trade exception (maybe the Knicks had a guaranteed “for Shump you gotta take J.R. policy”). And if not Shumpert, surely there’s a team willing to rid themselves of a score-first player that hasn’t exactly panned out.

    In theory, this deal makes Oklahoma City better. From the mouth of the reigning MVP, Kevin Durant hopes Waiters can replicate what James Harden brought to the Thunder three years ago. The problem is Waiters isn’t Harden in any way possible — he’s not as a good a scorer, a worse defender, and not much of a playmaker.

    Waiters is a talented wing and I’ve found myself caught up in that one too many times to believe now is where he gets it together — fortunately, I was never in too deep to fall for the for the “next Dwyane Wade” stuff. Like in Cleveland, Waiters will assume the role of “fourth scorer” and after witnessing him hijack countless possessions from Love/James/Irving, I’ve no reason to believe he doesn’t do the same with Durant/Westbrook/Jackson, none of whom he’s as good as though I’m sure he believes the complete opposite.

    But he’s RJax insurance. That’s what matters most here.


    What does the Waiters deal mean for LA? The Thunder have added another player the Clippers can’t guard. Kevin Durant is too much for 34-year-old Matt Barnes; Russell Westbrook is too overwhelming for Chris Paul; Reggie Jackson is left for Redick/Crawford to guard.

    In four career games against the Clippers, Waiters averages 15.8 points on 41 percent shooting (50 percent from three), 3.0 rebounds, and 3.5 assists — not too shabby.

    In all honesty, Waiters to Oklahoma City should be the least of Los Angeles’ worries. After an embarrassing home loss to the Atlanta Hawks, the Clippers have some soul searching to do. Everything about this team seems off, from Chris Paul to Blake Griffin to the numerous players on the bench who fail to impact the game consistently. The blame can be pointed in one direction (hi Doc Rivers!), but with a returning core and Spencer Hawes being added to the bench, things were supposed to be better if not much of the same. That hasn’t happened and with each questionable loss, the other Western Conference current playoff teams seems to pull further away from the Clippers are closer to being the contender the Clippers once hoped to be this season.

    With so many teams making moves to give themselves an edge over the competition (HOU/DAL/OKC), you have to wonder when the Clippers join the fray — at this point, it’s a matter of ‘when’ not ‘what if’. Josh Smith seemed like the “big” move, but Houston leap-frogged them (and maybe it’s best they did). The Clippers don’t have many attractive assets so how they get to that point will be interesting, but standing back without any attempt to shake things up may be the Clippers inadvertently waiving the white flag on the 2014-15 season.

    The trade deadline is right around the corner, so we’ll see.