How center Hassan Whiteside was used in the playoffs suggests Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra isn’t happy with how Whiteside is playing.
A recent post by Whiteside on social media suggests Whiteside isn’t happy with how he’s being used.
If Gastonia-native Whiteside and the Heat are headed for divorce, should the Charlotte Hornets pursue a trade?
Short answer: No. Longer answer: Wouldn’t that be adding tens of millions in payroll obligation for a younger version of what they already have?
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Whiteside is a former second-round pick (Sacramento Kings in 2010). He played overseas and in the G-League before catching on with the Heat in 2014. He improved steadily as a scorer and rebounder, and was rewarded with a four-year contract worth nearly $100 million in the summer of 2016.
Note the timing: The summer of 2016, when new national television contracts caused a sudden spike in the salary cap and caused various teams to overpay to retain talent. Hence, the Hornets signing Nic Batum for $120 million over five years.
Whiteside’s scoring, rebounding and shots blocked were all down this past season, but so were his minutes, and by a significant margin: 32.6 minutes per game in 2016-17, reduced to 25.3 MPG last season.
His reduction of minutes was more dramatic in the playoff series against Philadelphia 76ers. Whiteside started all five games of that best-of-seven series, but averaged just 15.2 minutes.
Whiteside’s frustration boiled over in early April, when he complained about a reduced role, and the Heat responded by fining him: “We got one of the best centers in the league? Why we match up (by instead going small late in games),” Whiteside told media. “It’s bull-(expletive). It’s really bull-(expletive).”
Then, this week, Whiteside posted video on his Instagram account of him making a jump shot, with the comment “You don’t know I’ve got that jumper. There’s a difference between you ‘can’t’ shoot and you’re ‘not allowed.’”
Whiteside needs a fresh start. But would it be wise for new Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak to pursue a trade?
Whiteside is a rim protector (he was a big factor in the Heat’s seven-game playoff victory over the Hornets in 2016), but is he where the NBA is headed with big men?
The trend is toward big men like New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid: Players effective offensively all over the court, yet not defensive liabilities.
Not every big man can play that way and Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert demonstrates a great goalie is still valuable in the NBA. However, Whiteside’s remaining contract ($25.4 million next season and $27 million the following season) doesn’t seem commensurate to his impact on games right now.
Just as importantly, he is redundant to what the Hornets already have in center Dwight Howard. Howard is obviously older (32, versus 28) but his contract (about $24 million next season) expires in the summer of 2019.
Isn’t it better to move forward, once Howard is a free agent, rather than commit to another expensive player of similar description? Particularly when the Hornets still have options at center in Cody Zeller and Willy Hernangomez.
Would I want Whiteside? Sure, at the right price.
That contract isn’t close to the right price.