Veteran center Hassan Whiteside won’t face his old team until January 5, when the Heat host the Trail Blazers, but Miami-based reporter Shandel Richardson of The Athletic caught up with the former Heat big man this week to discuss the trade that sent him to Portland in July.
According to Whiteside, both he and the Heat felt it was time to move on, and he doesn’t bear any “ill will” toward any staffers or former teammates in Miami. While there may be a perception that Whiteside left the Heat on bad terms, he insists that wasn’t the case, telling Richardson that Miami is “a great place to live” and that he’s still friendly with head coach Erik Spoelstra and team president Pat Riley.
In his conversation with Richardson, Whiteside addressed several other aspects of the deal that sent him from Miami to Portland, including whether or not he knew it was coming and what factors he believe led to the move.
If you have an Athletic subscription, the discussion is worth checking out in full, but here are a few of the more noteworthy comments from the Trail Blazers center:
On when he realized his time in Miami was nearing an end:
“We were working on something. It was something that I talked to them about, about getting traded. We talked about it within the last two years. We figured it out. I wanted to go somewhere I can play more and be more of a guy on the court. It’s never been about anything but that. I always just wanted to play. I could’ve sat back and chilled and collected checks, but I wanted to play.”
On the factors that led to the Heat trading him:
“I think the deciding factor was I got older. I’m 30 now. They bring in younger guys. I had four or five years at it. We got to the second round of the playoffs. We made the playoffs a couple of times. They just wanted to bring in new guys. That’s the business of it. It’s tough, especially when you’re seeing guys every day. But I’m used to it. I’ve played on so many teams. I’m not taking anything personal. I’m happy on my new team. I don’t really have anything much to say about the Heat. That chapter is over. I said my goodbyes. We had great memories. We had tough losses. That’s pretty much it for me.”
On facing criticism in Miami for not contributing at a level commensurate with his lucrative salary:
“Regardless of how many minutes I played in Miami, I always averaged a double-double. I always was top in defensive rating. You can look it up. I was No. 1 in the last year protecting the rim. Every year, you could say one thing but the numbers speak for themselves.
“A lot of people liked my 2015/16 season. I don’t even think that was my best season. I think my best season was the season I played the most the following year. I led the NBA in rebounds and averaged (17) points. That was my best year, the year after my contract. Unfortunately, I got an early season bone bruise the next year after I got 20 points and 20 rebounds (against Orlando). Then I missed a lot of games and basically times just got rocky.”