Shortly after being traded from the Heat to the Trail Blazers last week, center Hassan Whiteside immediately received numerous texts messages from a key member of Portland’s organization: Damian Lillard.
Lillard welcomed Whiteside to the team, having an open dialogue about what the franchise is capable of doing with a healthy roster entering the 2019/20 season.
“I think the things that stuck out the most was he was just communicating and stressing that it had to happen on both ends,” Whiteside said, according to Jason Quick of The Athletic. “Regardless of what we are feeling at the time, we all have the same goal. And he said he would never try to stand me up or show out on me, or another person, and he expects the same. And he was like, ‘If Coach talks, just respect it.’”
Whiteside privately and publicly sent signals that he wanted more playing time during his time in Miami. His relationship with head coach Erik Spoelstra was rocky, with the 30-year-old rarely influenced by a leader such as Lillard throughout his career.
“I’ve never had anybody approach me like that,” Whiteside said. “Outside of D. Wade, maybe, but D. Wade wasn’t there a couple years. But what Dame showed me was how serious he is and what kind of leader he is. That made me even more excited about coming here because he was showing me his teammate side, his leadership side.”
There’s more from the Northwest Division tonight:
- Multiple NBA executives believe the Thunder won the Russell Westbrook trade with Houston last week, according to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “Huge win for Oklahoma City,” said one unnamed executive. By trading Westbrook to the Rockets for Chris Paul, 2024 and 2026 first-round picks and the right to swap picks in 2021 and 2025, the Thunder were able to add to their already lengthy collection of future picks and assets.
- Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman details why the Thunder continue to acquire future draft picks in trades this month. In addition to Westbrook, Oklahoma City also traded away Paul George for five first-round picks (2021 via Miami, 2022, 2023 via Miami, 2024 and 2026), plus two pick swaps (2023, 2025). The team also moved forward Jerami Grant to Denver for a future first-round pick (2020).
- The Nuggets have withdrawn their qualifying offer for two-way player Brandon Goodwin, according to RealGM. Goodwin is now an unrestricted free agent.