Hassan Whiteside is not happy with the Heat right now after he was relegated to playing 15.5 minutes per game during Miami’s first round series loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Whiteside has voiced his frustrations with not closing out games at various points during the year, as the center has not agreed with coach Erik Spoelstra choosing to often roll with a smaller lineup in crunch time. All of these frustrations reached a boiling point as the regular season came to a close when he called it “bullsh*t” that the Heat go small against teams that lack size.
This is not a unique position Whiteside finds himself in, and it’s actually quite reminiscent of what Dwight Howard went through in Atlanta a season ago when he was rendered almost useless in the Hawks’ first round series and found himself planted on the bench for the majority of crunch time. Howard, of course, was ultimately dealt to the Hornets for Marco Belinelli and Miles Plumlee as Atlanta looked to simply get him out of the locker room.
Miami might be looking to do the same with Whiteside, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports the Heat will “explore a Whiteside trade” this summer. The problem is, much like Howard, Whiteside is owed a great deal of money over the next two years ($52.5 million) and plays a non-premium position in the modern NBA, which is why Miami’s in this mess with him in the first place.
Much like we did with DeAndre Jordan earlier in the year, we’ve gone ahead and looked at every team in the NBA to see if there’s a possible fit for a Whiteside trade. Like Jordan (who is better than Whiteside), it’s likely going to be difficult for the Heat to find much on the trade market. Whiteside won’t bring Miami anything in terms of value in return, and they may have to accept something like what the Hawks got for Howard in return to have any chance of moving the disgruntled big man.
There aren’t many teams that figure to be interested in him, especially after the way things ended this postseason. A player like Justise Winslow could very well be the “sweetener” in a Whiteside deal, but I’m not including him in this because I don’t think he sweetens the pot to the point Miami could get anyone of major value back. Plus Winslow is the only player they currently have other than Bam Adebayo that’s not about to make $10 million plus, so he has value elsewhere in a potential future deal more so than in a Whiteside deal.
With that in mind, here are the “best” deals I could find out there in trade machine land for Whiteside, ranging from “that kind of makes sense for both sides” to “this would be a disaster, but technically works and would be objectively hilarious.” Let’s go!
Heat get: Robin Lopez and Cristiano Felicio
Bulls get: Hassan Whiteside
The Heat would get a center that’s far more willing to accept the role they want out of that position and while he doesn’t have the upside on either end of Whiteside when Hassan is at his best, Lopez is a solid, steady veteran presence that could start against bigger teams and would be fine coming off the bench when they want to play small with Kelly Olynyk. Felicio’s contract is an albatross, but maybe Spo can get something out of him. Even if not, it’s three years at an average of $8 million per year (descending, too) and they’ll catch cap relief when Lopez’s deal expires next season.
The Bulls take a swing with Whiteside as they continue their rebuild. Whiteside and Zach LaVine as your two big money deals isn’t exactly inspiring, but it’s also not the worst thing in the world and you only have Whiteside for two years. Getting Felicio off the books makes this one hurt a little less in the long term, and come 2020 when Whiteside and Omer Asik are gone, the Bulls suddenly have a full max slot available, right when they maybe are coming around as a young contender (if all goes according to plan).
Heat get: Zach Randolph and Iman Shumpert
Kings get: Hassan Whiteside
Let’s go ahead and assume Shump picks up his option and move forward with this mediocre trade. It works, technically. The Kings have to spend money somewhere and it sure as hell isn’t going to be on a premier free agent, so they might as well take a swing on Whiteside. The Heat get cap relief for 2019 because all that money comes off the books. That’s a big deal because it would open them up for a max slot that summer, although they’ll have a decision to make on Winslow’s future.
Heat get: Tyson Chandler and Jared Dudley
Suns get: Hassan Whiteside
Pretty much the same deal as with the Kings. The Suns are supposedly going to try and spend money this summer, but like Sacramento, they’re a hard sell for free agents. Whiteside is a name and Phoenix can hope he can gobble up boards while Devin Booker hoists jumpers.
Heat get: Ian Mahinmi and Marcin Gortat
Wizards get: Hassan Whiteside
This is the most hilarious option on the board, because I can think of no worse environment to put Whiteside than the Wizards locker room. However, from a basketball perspective and cap perspective I can once again almost rationalize this. The Wizards take a chance that Wall and Whiteside could be a great pick-and-roll duo and that he can gobble up offensive boards and be the rim protector this team desperately needs. The money is mitigated by the fact that Whiteside makes only $21 million more over the next two years than Mahinmi, and you also take away a year of Gortat at $13.5 million.
The Heat pretty much do the same thing as in the Bulls deal here. They get rid of Whiteside, take the cap relief of $12 million on the final year of Mahinmi’s deal compared to Whiteside’s option, and can roll with Gortat as their starting center for a year but also not expect him to tear them apart from the inside when they choose to go small and he has to ride the pine.
Heat get: Bismack Biyombo and Nikola Vucevic
Magic get: Hassan Whiteside
Take everything I wrote about Mahinmi/Gortat and replace them with Biyombo/Vucevic, who have almost the exact same contracts. Whiteside takes over as the Magic remove some clutter out of the frontcourt and try rebuilding for the third time since Dwight Howard left.
Heat get: Dwight Howard
Hornets get: Hassan Whiteside
It’s literally just swapping centers that have seen their value in the modern NBA deteriorate rapidly, but you can almost rationalize it from both sides. The Hornets can hope they will be the ones to tap into Whiteside’s potential as Mitch Kupchak might still believe a true center has a place in the league. Whiteside is younger than Howard and still has the allure of some “upside,” even if that appears to be fading. The downside here is tacking on one more year of major money to a team that has serious cap issues already and is probably looking to lighten up their cap situation moving forward this summer, not add to it.
The Heat get Howard for one year and then get some much needed cap space for 2019, a year earlier than they would with Whiteside still around (assuming he picks up his $27 million player option which he’d be almost crazy not to). No one gets better here, but that’s kind of the case with every Whiteside deal. His value is dependent on a team thinking they can get more out of him than Miami did, and maybe Charlotte is that team.
Here’s why every other team makes absolutely no sense (fully understanding most of the above trades make very little sense):
Atlanta Hawks: Pat Riley hangs up as Travis Schlenk offers Dennis Schröder and Miles Plumlee, which ends up costing Miami way more money over the long term.
Boston Celtics: Al Horford better.
Brooklyn Nets: Almost impossible to make the money work and have it make sense for either team. Timofey Mozgov and Jeremy Lin? I don’t think so.
Cleveland Cavaliers: I wanted this to work so badly for the laughs, but I can’t see it. Jordan Clarkson and Tristan Thompson would work financially, but that offers no savings for Miami and Clarkson’s not a fit.
Dallas Mavericks: Like Brooklyn, almost impossible to make money work here. A Harrison Barnes/Whiteside swap would be hilarious but makes literally no sense for Dallas. Wes Matthews/Dwight Powell would I guess do the job once Wes picks up his option, but I don’t like it from either side.
Denver Nuggets: Nikola Jokic better.
Detroit Pistons: Andre Drummond better (or, at the least, kinda the same).
Golden State Warriors: Come on.
Houston Rockets: Clint Capela better.
Indiana Pacers: Myles Turner better.
Los Angeles Clippers: If DeAndre Jordan turns down his option and doesn’t re-sign in L.A., I have to imagine that’s because the Clippers want to avoid the traditional, plodding center. Danilo Gallinari for Whiteside would work, but I can’t imagine the Clippers want to do that.
Los Angeles Lakers: Saving cap space for all the max free agents either this year or next year.
Memphis Grizzlies: They have Marc Gasol.
Milwaukee Bucks: PLAYOFF THON MAKER BETTER. (No, but really, the contracts you can put together in Milwaukee to make the money work make no sense for Miami, unless they want Eric Bledsoe for some reason).
Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns better.
New Orleans Pelicans: Anthony Davis better. Also, DeMarcus Cousins might re-sign and Boogie better.
New York Knicks: First, I cannot allow the Knicks to do this to Kristaps Porzingis. Second, I don’t care how tired Miami is of Whiteside, they’re not taking on Joakim Noah’s contract. Third, Enes Kanter for Whiteside would work if Kanter picks up his option, but why would New York further clog up their cap sheet? The Knicks will probably do that third option for reasons beyond me.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Steven Adams better.
Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid better.
Portland Trail Blazers: They have a cap disaster to figure out already without adding in Whiteside’s deal. Also the Heat get significantly worse in taking Evan Turner and Meyers Leonard back with no cap relief.
San Antonio Spurs: There’s no way Gregg Popovich wants Whiteside. None.
Toronto Raptors: Lucas Nogueira better.
Utah Jazz: Rudy Gobert better.
In summation, the Heat are probably going to end up hanging on to Whiteside because the best trades likely make the team worse in the short run with the hopes of gaining some cap space one year into the future. It’s possible a deal gets done and maybe I missed a possibility, but I’m fairly confident there’s not a gem of a deal to be made out there, and it will either take one team really liking Whiteside or the Heat being desperate to move him.