SAN ANTONIO - Dion Waiters wants to play for the 76ers next season, says a source close to the Oklahoma City Thunder reserve guard.
"He wants to come home," said the source, noting that Waiters is from South Philly. "Plus, he knows that he could be the missing shooting guard they need. And he could possibly get a [very lucrative] contract with the Sixers."
The Sixers will have more cap space than most teams next summer.
The source said that Waiters won't acknowledge publicly his desire to play for the Sixers because he's still under contract with the Thunder. He noted that Oklahoma City could ultimately decide where the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder plays next season.
That's because Waiters will become a restricted free agent after the season, if he and the Thunder can't reach an agreement on a contract extension before the early extension deadline on Nov. 2.
Next summer, Oklahoma City will be able to match any offer sheet Waiters signs with another team. So Waiters can talk to other teams and sign an offer, but the Thunder will have the final say in where he ends up.
Oklahoma City is under the impression that Waiters wants to remain with the Thunder.
"Dion has made it clear that he feels he has found a basketball home in Oklahoma City and is committed to being a part of the culture that exists," Thunder general manager Sam Presti said in a statement published by The Oklahoman earlier this month. "The team sees him as someone who has his best basketball in front of him as has the potential to be a contributor for years to come with more to develop in our program."
Waiters averaged 11.0 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists as of Saturday.
The 23-year-old was the fourth overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2014 draft. He was sent to the Thunder as part of a three-team trade also involving the New York Knicks on Jan. 5.
There has been talk in the past of Waiters' desire to play in front of family members and friends. However, he's in a great situation in Oklahoma City. So word of his latest interest in the Sixers could be a move to get a more lucrative contract from the Thunder. The source said that's not the case.
"He really would like that, to come home," the source said. "He talked about getting a place downtown not too far from the arena so playing at home would be less of a distraction."
Sixers coach Brett Brown said that Nik Stauskas will remain the team's starting shooting guard after Saturday's setback to the San Antonio Spurs. Stauskas failed to score a point against the Spurs while missing all six of his field-goal attempts. He went 0-for-3 on three-pointers. The 6-6, 205-pounder is shooting just 33 percent from the field and 28.1 percent on three-pointers this season. He's getting great wide-open looks at the basket. His shots are just not falling.
"It just feels like you keep missing, keep missing," Stauskas said. "A lot of times all you need is two or three to go in in a row and you just snap out of it. But I feel like every one I make, I end up missing the next three."
Stauskas has been making his shots with ease during the portions of practice and shootaround that is available to the media.
"It's just a matter of getting it to go down in the game," he said.