Waiters’ status with the team had been the subject of speculation since last season, most recently in a rumored deal to Indiana in exchange for center Roy Hibbert. Just four days ago, Rob Mahoney of Sports Illustrated speculated that Waiters could be part of an in-season deal.
Waiters made the All-Rookie team in 2012-13, seeing action in 61 games while averaging 14.7 points and three assists per contest. Last year in 70 games, he boosted his scoring per game to 15.9, while maintaining the three assist average.
Last year, Waiters started only 24 games, and was forced to deal with perceptions of a bad relationship with Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving, as the team stumbled to a disappointing 33-49 season, leading to the dismissal (for the second time) of head coach Mike Brown.
In the NBA, rookie contracts for first round picks are guaranteed for the first two seasons, with team options on the next two years. Waiters, the fourth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, is set to begin his third season with the team, making a salary of just over $4 million for the year. By virtue of the Cavaliers picking up his option, Waiters is guaranteed to make more than $5.1 million during the 2015-16 campaign.
While the deal doesn’t completely eliminate the prospect of Waiters being traded, it does diminish the possibility. Coupled with the close relationship Waiters has with LeBron James, the move virtually solidifies Waiters’ status in the team’s starting lineup.
The Cavaliers begin their season on Thursday night when they host the New York Knicks at the Quicken Loan Arena. The game is scheduled to be nationally broadcast by TNT beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern.