After a full week of speculation surrounding Dion Waiters future with Syracuse, the biggest question looming is what, if any, effect does this week of turmoil have on his career? For nearly a full week now, Orange Nation has been in a tizzy trying to figure out what exactly Jim Boeheim meant when he cryptically talked about Dion with FoxSports.com. The Per’fesser’s original comments to Jon Rothstein were followed up by a week of contradictory statements and half-denials from the coach, until Dion himself finally took to Twitter.
- Listen to the FizzCast: Dion vs. Boeheim – what to believe?
Wednesday night’s tweet was certainly more reassuring than his original, “don’t believe it if it didn’t come out of my mouth” stance, but it might not even be Dion’s decision to make. For now, let’s take the player at his word and assume Waiters will be back in an Orange uniform.
The easy, and incorrect answer is that as long as he comes back, it has no effect.
Coach Boeheim made this a story by bringing it up to Rothstein, who says he never even asked Boeheim a question about it directly. Knowing Boeheim’s history with Dion and his media-savvy, it’s impossible to believe he accidentally let this slip. If Boeheim made a statement like this to a reporter, he wanted the story to get out. And the only reason he’d want it public is to send a message to his player.
The message has clearly been delivered. Boeheim and Syracuse can survive without Waiters. With would be preferred, but only if he’s willing to do it the coach’s way. The important question remains, how will that statement be received?
There are two possible ways for Dion to react. Best case? Waiters adjusts his attitude, put forth a stronger effort on the defensive end, and gladly accept his role as a bench player in a crowded backcourt. If that’s the case, Waiters can be a key contributor for what will be a loaded Orange team.
The last time Syracuse was on the court, Waiters was its best player, with a game-high in points off the bench against Marquette. That night he showed the potential to be SU’s most explosive scorer, and an attitude adjustment may be all that is needed for him to carry that into next season.
If that happens, Boeheim comes out of this whole mess looking like a motivational genius who pushed the right buttons with his most talented, yet troublesome player. But it’s far from a guarantee that Waiters will respond positively to his coach’s message.
The worst case scenario is these statements put further strain on an already tumultuous relationship. There’s a chance Waiters receives this message, essentially tells his coach to “bleep-off” again, and becomes more defiant. Dion could see his minutes swaying in the direction of Michael Carter-Williams, and decide to turn things sour very quickly.
If Dion is in fact coming back, the difference between returning as an explosive game-changer and a locker room cancer comes down to one word – attitude. Boeheim has seemingly issued a shape-up or ship-out ultimatum. Now the ball is in Dion’s court.
Posted: Steve Neikam