“It depends,” he said Sunday about taking a pay cut. “Yeah, I would, though. But, like I said, it depends, just being the right thing, at the right time. It’s just got to be right. It’s got to be equal.”
The Syracuse University product has credited the Heat organization with reviving his career in past interviews, but it remains to be seen how much of a discount he would be willing to take. He signed a two-year, $6 million deal with the Heat last summer which included a player option in the second year. Last week, he notified the Heat that he would be declining that option and testing the free-agency market.
The 25-year-old’s value on the market will be significantly more than the $3.1 million dollars he would have made if he had opted in, and Waiters noted the excitement that comes with being one of the best shooting guards available this year.
“It’s excitement at the end of the day, just getting a chance to go through that process and see what the team is talking about and things like that, just the little things, it’s exciting,” he said of his impending free agency. “This is an exciting time. You knew how hard you worked.”
In March, Waiters insisted that he wanted to stay in South Beach and emphasized the importance of bringing the core of this past year’s Heat team back:
“I am enjoying this thing,” he said at the time. “Whatever it takes [this summer], I just want to be here. What we’re building here, we have a chance to do something special. I want to get it done as quick as possible. Let’s keep this thing rolling by any means. I don’t want to go into free agency with a couple days and make a decision. I don’t want that. I know where I want to be. Let’s just get it done. My mom loves it here. Would be mad at me [if I left]. My son loves it. My family loves it.”
The Heat front office will have around $37 million to spend this offseason once Chris Bosh‘s salary is removed. And Heat president Pat Riley noted in his end-of-season press conference that he would like to bring Waiters and James Johnson back — at a fair price.
“I hope that Dion and James and the rest of our free agents like it here enough that we’re going to be fair with them and they’ll be fair with us,” Riley said.
The Heat will be able to begin contract negotiations on July 1, which is less than a month away.