Heat center Hassan Whiteside has the ability to reach the open market this summer if he opts out of the final year of the four-year contract he signed back in 2016. However, he’s unlikely to get the sort of payday in free agency that would make it worthwhile to decline his $27MM+ player option for 2019/20.
Still, as Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald writes, Whiteside doesn’t view the decision as automatic, telling reporters on Wednesday that he plans to give the matter some thought in the coming weeks.
“I’m definitely going to weigh my options,” Whiteside said. “It’s definitely a decision I got to make and do the best for me. I feel like if I’m playing, I’m going to produce so it will take care of itself.”
Having been displaced by Bam Adebayo in Miami’s starting lineup, Whiteside saw his playing time dip to just 23.3 minutes per contest in 2018/19, his lowest mark since he joined the Heat in 2014. That number dropped even further, to 17.3 MPG, in the 19 games since the start of March. And while the 29-year-old didn’t publicly gripe about his role during the season, he made it clear today that he believes he’s capable of more.
“I don’t think I’m a 20-minute guy,” Whiteside said, per Jackson. “I average what, 20 minutes? So I think I can play more and I can do more. So I definitely think what I bring to the game is at a high level for my position. You know, I led the league in categories that you would want a big man to lead the league in. I feel like I can keep doing that.”
Whiteside’s overall numbers – 12.3 PPG, 11.3 RPG, and 1.9 BPG – were down from previous years, but as he hints at, his per-minute production was strong. According to Basketball-Reference’s data, the Heat center led the league in rebounds per 36 minutes and ranked fifth in blocks per 36 minutes.