Western Notes: Henderson, Griffin, Whiteside

Blazers swingman Gerald Henderson was supposed to provide some much needed veteran leadership on the court in the wake of the departure of LaMarcus Aldridge as a free agent and the trade of Nicolas Batum to the Hornets, but instead he has fallen to third-string on the team’s depth chart, Jason Quick of CSNNW.com writes. Henderson and his expiring contract could potentially be dealt prior to this season’s trade deadline, but his struggles on the court may make it difficult for Portland to extract much in the way of value if the swingman is traded, Quick notes.

Henderson understands he’s not performing up to par, but believes he can turn things around, Quick adds. “I don’t feel like I can really play worse,’’ Henderson said. “I think I play good defense; I think I’ve done a good job on that end of the court. But offensively … just been inconsistent. I look at myself … I know how to play. And it will turn around at some point … but I feel like I can help the team, obviously more.’’

Here’s more from out West:

  • One unsung aspect of injured power forward Blake Griffin‘s game that the Clippers will miss is his passing, and the team’s offense has already taken a hit in its efficiency since the high-flying big man has been out of the lineup, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today writes. “You forget, other than CP [Chris Paul], who makes the passes for our team,” Rivers said. “You realize how important Blake is. Most people just look at his scoring, and it’s his passing that makes us go as well.” Griffin is expected to be out of action for at least two weeks after suffering a partially torn left quadriceps.
  • Look for Heat center Hassan Whiteside to be one of the top free agent targets for the Mavericks this coming offseason, Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News opines. While Sefko does praise the play of Zaza Pachulia for Dallas this season, he notes that Whiteside would be a clear upgrade, especially on the defensive end, and the Heat’s salary cap situation could make it difficult for Miami to re-sign the big man, thus helping the Mavs’ cause in regards to inking Whiteside this summer. Miami is currently projected to have approximately $39MM-$45MM in free cap space, but those figures only include six players and don’t account for pending free agents Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng, among others.

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