Will the Houston Rockets consider trading Dwight Howard before February’s deadline? CineSport’s Brian Clark and I discussed that and more in our latest video.
Whiteside Responds to Trade Rumors
Hassan Whiteside has been making headlines throughout the last year, mainly because he seemingly came out of nowhere to become one of the most dominant centers in the NBA for the Miami HEAT. Remember, the 26-year-old center wasn’t even in the league at the start of last season and had spent several years bouncing around Lebanon, China and the D-League prior to this stint with Miami.
Now, as evidence of how far Whiteside has come in the last 12 months, he is being mentioned in trade rumors involving stars like Houston’s Dwight Howard, Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins and New York’s Carmelo Anthony. And it’s only December! We still have two months to go before the NBA’s trade deadline is here.
These reports surfaced after the big man averaged 11.8 points, 10 rebounds and 2.6 blocks for Miami last season and has been even better this year, averaging 12.5 points, 10.6 rebounds and 3.9 blocks through 24 games.
His numbers are even more impressive when you consider that Whiteside is only playing 27.7 minutes per game. Not to mention, the advanced analytics – including PER, defensive rating, block percentage and Miami’s points allowed per 100 possessions among others – back up the claim that Whiteside is having a monster season.
So why would the HEAT even consider trading their center?
Well, as I recently wrote, Miami is in a tough position. Whiteside will be an unrestricted free agent this summer since he has only been with the HEAT for two seasons. What that means is that they can’t offer him more money or contract years than other teams. They also must use their cap space to sign him and can’t go over the salary cap to retain him. They may have to make a hard decision between re-signing Whiteside or adding a star player. To put it simply, this isn’t your typical free agency.
Financially, Miami will be in the same position as every other potential suitor trying to get Whiteside’s name on a dotted line. (The HEAT do have Whiteside’s Early Bird rights, but that’s irrelevant since he’ll command significantly more than the league average when he hits the market).
That is likely where some of these trade rumors about Whiteside are coming from. Teams may be calling Miami to see if Pat Riley has interest in trading Whiteside right now rather than potentially losing him for nothing this summer in free agency (although his new team wouldn’t hold his Bird Rights either, so they’d be taking a big risk as well).
With that said, it’s important to note that it’s very difficult to get equal value back in a Whiteside trade because his contract for this season is so small. While he’s set for a huge pay day this summer, his salary for this year is just $981,348 since Miami inked him on a bargain deal out of the D-League.
This is quite possibly the best contract in the NBA and it makes trading Whiteside for a high-paid star like Howard ($22,359,364), Anthony ($22,875,000) or Cousins ($15,851,950) rather difficult. Other pieces would obviously have to be included, and Whiteside’s new team would also have to be okay with giving up a star for an upcoming unrestricted free agent.
While these factors make a trade unlikely, these are still rumors that Whiteside has to deal with. To his credit, he has been handling the rumors well by ignoring them and focusing on what he can control.
“I just saw it; it’s just rumors,” Whiteside told Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “I mean, it’s just rumors, I guess. I don’t really know how factual it is. But I’m just going to keep playing basketball.
“A lot of people are speculating,” Whiteside said. “I just keep playing basketball every day. I’m just going to keep coming in and doing the same thing I’ve been doing. … I’m not really listening to all that other stuff.”
Prior to the start of the season, HEAT head coach Erik Spoelstra talked to his players about blocking out trade rumors and reiterated that message recently.
“You just have to address it at the beginning of the year, and then to remind guys that it’s all noise,” Spoelstra told Winderman. “You almost don’t want to address it, because it’s so unsubstantiated, where the source came from, that you’re just highlighting that even more.
“So guys understand that every team, there will so much fiction out there; you just have to focus on your team, your role and your situation.”
Because of everything mentioned above, these recent rumors involving Whiteside are likely just that: rumors. For now, it doesn’t seem like Whiteside is going anywhere. If he does change teams in the near future, that likely happens during free agency in July rather than before the trade deadline in February.
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