This one feels too easy.
No Nets guard had a positive net rating last year. None came close. Their best was Joe Johnson, who finished the year in Miami, at -4.3 points per 100 possessions. Among guards who actually finished the year on the team? none were better than -5.0. The Nets didn’t just have the worst guard play in basketball last season. They arguably just compiled the single worst set of guards in NBA history.
But this free agent class is fairly light on guards, and no self-respecting starter-caliber player like Mike Conley or DeMar DeRozan would willingly play for this flaming tiger orgy of an organization. To find someone the Nets are going to have to overpay. They’re going to have to find someone nobody else would want. And they’re going to have to live with whatever defects that player has.
And boy, does Dion Waiters have defects. It’d be easier to count the things he’s not good at than the reverse. All he really does is take shots. And he misses most of them. But hey, he can dribble a basketball and isn’t afraid to at least try to score. That would’ve made him the third best 2016 Net. And hey, at least he had a decent playoffs. Even if it’s much easier to find space for shots on Kevin Durant’s team than it is on Sergey Karasev’s.
So here’s how this one is going to go down. Not how I think it’s going to happen, not how I predict it will, but how it absolutely, positively will transpire. Waiters is going to spend the early part of free agency declaring to all who will listen that he’s one of the best players on the market and deserves to be treated as such. The Nets will spend the early part of free agency flailing away from the kid’s table trying to get the big fishes’ attention. Neither will succeed. And that’s how these two parties find each other.
It’ll be later in July, maybe even into August. Waiters will ask for a full four-year contract. The Nets will counter with a one-year “prove it” deal. And since the Nets don’t know how to negotiate, they’ll meet at three years, hovering around eight figures, because at least if they sign someone for that kind of money they can bandy him about as if it were a real splash. So get ready Brooklynites, you’re going to see quite a few confusing ads featuring “prized addition Dion Waiters.” And then he’ll shoot six-for-290 on opening night and that’ll be that. But hey, someone agreed to come to Brooklyn! That’s something!
Likely Contract: Three Years, $27 million