TUESDAY, 8:34am: The Heat have questions about Howard’s character and the way he’d fit with their team, sources tell Zach Lowe of ESPN.com.
MONDAY, 10:56am: The Rockets and Heat are talking about a potential trade that would involve Dwight Howard and Hassan Whiteside, according to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News (Twitter link). Miami would have to come up with at least an additional $17,315,052 in salary to make such a trade work within the league’s salary-matching rules, thanks in part to Howard’s trade kicker, and significantly more if the Heat want to cut payroll to avoid repeat-offender tax penalties. The Heat have reportedly measured the market for Whiteside, and the Rockets have reportedly gauged interest in Howard, too, if only on a due-diligence basis.
Howard is making in excess of $22.359MM this season, while Whiteside earns the three-year veteran’s minimum of $981,348. Both are poised for free agency this summer, with the Rockets expecting Howard to opt out and Whiteside’s bargain contract set to expire. The Heat have only Early Bird rights on Whiteside, meaning they’d have to use cap room to pay him in excess of roughly $6MM next season. The same would be true for the Rockets, or any other team that might trade for him before Thursday’s 2pm Central time deadline. The Heat reportedly believe Whiteside, who turns 27 this summer, would command a salary of at least $17MM. The Sean Kennedy client will no doubt try for a max deal with a projected starting salary of $20.4MM, while Howard, only three and a half years older but with eight additional years of NBA experience, is expected to seek his max of a projected $29.3MM.
Miami has reportedly grown frustrated with the emotional Whiteside, while the Rockets are looking for answers while they sit at 27-28, in ninth place in the Western Conference. ESPN’s Chris Broussard said this morning that Howard would like to play for his hometown Hawks, though it’s unclear if Atlanta has interest, and the market for the former All-Star center apparently hasn’t been overwhelming so far.
Can you envision a workable trade proposal involving Howard and Whiteside? Share your ideas in the comments.