Hassan Whiteside

Hassan Whiteside Plans To Opt In For 2019/20

4:21pm: There’s a growing belief that if and when Whiteside opts in, he may do so while asking for a trade, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Given his $27MM+ salary, it won’t be easy for the Heat to make a deal.

11:24am: Barring an unforeseen development in the coming days, Heat center Hassan Whiteside intends to opt into the final season of his contract, exercising his 2019/20 player option, a league source tells Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Picking up that option will make Whiteside the Heat’s highest-paid player for next season, locking in a salary of $27,093,018, per Basketball Insiders. The veteran big man will subsequently be on track to reach unrestricted free agency during the summer of 2020.

Whiteside, who turned 30 years old last Thursday, averaged 12.3 PPG and 11.3 RPG with 1.9 BPG in 72 games (53 starts) for the Heat last season. While his numbers were solid, Whiteside’s 23.3 minutes per game represented his lowest mark since he arrived in Miami in 2014.

Whiteside hasn’t been thrilled about his reduced role and inconsistent minutes over the last two seasons. Still, despite expressing a little dissatisfaction with his playing time, he was always considered a virtual lock to exercise his player option to stick with the Heat — he’d have no chance of matching his $27MM salary for ’19/20 on the open market.

With option salaries for both Whiteside and Goran Dragic on their books for next season, the Heat’s guaranteed salary commitments will increase to nearly $130MM for just eight players, plus a $3.64MM cap hold for their first-round pick. The team figures to thoroughly explore ways to cut costs during the offseason to avoid ending up in tax territory with a roster that missed the playoffs this past season.

As our player option decision tracker shows, 10 players have already opted in for the 2019/20 season, with Whiteside and Dwight Powell (Mavericks) both planning to do so as well.

Here are a few more brief Heat notes:

  • According to Jackson, the Heat and Grizzlies discussed a possible Mike Conley trade, but didn’t see eye to eye on compensation and those talks went nowhere. The two sides didn’t rule out the possibility of revisiting discussions later in the summer.
  • Jimmy Butler has told confidants that he’d be happy to meet with the Heat in free agency if the team wants to make a pitch, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Miami doesn’t project to have any cap room available this offseason though, so the idea of Butler joining the team is an extreme long shot.
  • University of Miami prospect Dewan Hernandez cancelled a workout with the Heat due to scheduling issues and an overcrowded workout calendar, writes Jackson.

Heat Notes: Conley, Nunn, Dragic

The Mike Conley-to-the-Heat talk is just that at the moment. It’s strictly speculation, according to Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel, though the scribe wonders if there’s a potential deal that makes sense for both Miami and Memphis.

Matching salary would be easy if Hassan Whiteside opts in and the Grizzlies are willing to take back the center as a main pillar of the trade. However, what would Miami have to add as an incentive for Memphis to make the move? The Grizzlies would get out of Conley’s contract, which runs through the 2020/21 season, though the franchise would undoubtedly want more than just cost savings if they deal their long-time point guard.

The Heat are not in a position to trade away their first-rounder this year (No. 13 overall), having given away their 2021 selection in the Goran Dragic deal. The organization could offer Dragic (assuming he opts in) in place of Whiteside, but that kind of deal doesn’t really move the needle for Miami.

Then there are the financial repercussions for Miami in taking back Conley. He’ll collect approximately $32.5MM and $34.5MM in each of the next two seasons (Conley has an ETO on the 2020/21 season, but it would be shocking if he opts out). As it currently stands, the Heat’s first shot at sizeable cap space is prior to the 2020/21 season and trading for Memphis’ point guard would delay that eureka moment by an entire calendar year.

Here’s more from Miami:

  • Kendrick Nunn is guaranteed $50K if he’s on the roster come July 1 and Winderman contends (in the same piece) that Nunn’s future with the Heat could be tied to the team’s draft. If Miami acquires a second-round pick—Minnesota owns their 2019 selection—then Nunn’s spot on the team may be in jeopardy.
  • A source close to Dragic would be “very surprised” if the point guard opts to hit the free agent market this summer, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald relays. Dragic likes playing for the Heat, though the decision could come down to whether his camp gets the sense that a long-term lucrative deal awaits him this offseason.
  • The Heat are operating under the assumption that both Whiteside and Dragic will opt into their respective deals for next season, Winderman writes in a separate piece. Whiteside’s player option for 2019/20 is worth approximately $27.1MM while Dragic’s comes in at roughly $19.2MM.
  • Patience with Dion Waiters and James Johnson was wearing thin during the 2018/19 campaign, Winderman adds in the same article. Both players have had injury woes throughout their respective contract with the Heat, though Winderman writes that it doesn’t mean there isn’t an “avenue for redemption” next season. Each players’ contract runs through the 2020/21 season, though Johnson’s pact contains a player option on that final season.

Southeast Notes: Connelly, Heat, Ressler

Now that the Nuggets’ season is over after a thrilling seven-game series loss to Portland, the Wizards are ramping up their efforts to hire Denver’s current president of basketball operations Tim Connelly to the same position in Washington, per Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington.

While there were questions as to why the Wizards would wait until the Nuggets’ season was over to pursue Connelly, Standig notes that Connelly wasn’t expected to fully explore a move until the Nuggets’ playoff run ended, despite reportedly having interest in running the Wizards.

The Nuggets appear to have an extremely bright future, but Connelly is from Baltimore and began his front office career in Washington in 1996 when he was hired as intern before working his way up to director of player personnel under then-general manager and Wizards’ legend Wes Unseld.

The Nuggets have been in a similar situation as this before. Back in 2013, Nuggets’ GM Masai Ujiri took the same position with the Raptors after team owner Stan Kroenke acquiesced to Ujiri’s desire to return to Toronto. It will interesting to see if a similar situation will arise with Connelly and the Wizards.

There’s more from the Southeast Division this evening:

  • While it remains highly unlikely that either Hassan Whiteside or Goran Dragic opt out of their contract with the Heat, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel relays that even if they did, Miami would still need to use the stretch provision on veteran forward Ryan Anderson just to get close to having enough cap space to sign a max-salary free agent. The more likely scenario is a trade of Dragic, but not Whiteside, after both opt in, especially considering the unlikelihood of a free agent wanting to sign with Miami if Whiteside and Dragic are both gone.
  • In another Q&A session for the Sun-Sentinel (link), Winderman agrees with one of his readers that the Heat probably mistimed their rebuild by beginning a little too early. Rather, they should have followed the lead of other Eastern Conference contenders and waited for LeBron James to leave the East before going into rebuild mode.
  • Despite a overwhelming consensus that this year’s draft crop is lacking in overall talent, Hawks’ owner Tony Ressler is not using that as an excuse, telling Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “If we can’t make two top-10 picks work for us, it’s our fault. Our job is to make them work and I think we will.”

Pat Riley Speaks On State Of Heat

James Johnson and Dion Waiters would be entering free agency if things had gone differently for the Heat in the summer of 2017, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

At a press conference today, team president Pat Riley said he would have signed both players for two seasons instead of four if Miami had been able to land free agent targets Kevin Durant or Gordon Hayward. Once Durant picked the Warriors and Hayward signed with the Celtics, Riley agreed to longer contracts with both Johnson and Waiters.

“On July 1, I didn’t want to be left with nobody,” he said. “After five days of Gordon having to make a decision, I didn’t want to lose some players we had. I do know James had a deal [elsewhere if Miami didn’t sign him]. It was my decision. I didn’t want to lose all three of them.”

That decision left the Heat with two more expensive contracts that could help push the team $35MM above the cap next season, assuming Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic both opt in.

“We weren’t thinking of room after we lost Kevin Durant and Hayward,” Riley said. “We were thinking we had that 30-11 team come back [Miami’s record in the second half of the 2016/17 season]. We thought the contracts we gave were long-term contracts. That’s on me. You can put that all on me. We didn’t land Hayward and I didn’t want [to lose] the other two guys.”

Riley covered a wealth of topics during today’s session with the media. Here are a few, courtesy of Jackson and Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald:

  • Even if the Lakers were to make an offer, Riley won’t consider going to L.A. to take over for Magic Johnson. “There’s no doubt that I have a history with that team,” he said. “I have a lot of friends inside the organization. … But I’m not going to be a part of that.”
  • Riley wants coach Erik Spoelstra to find ways to get Whiteside and Bam Adebayo on the court at the same time. Despite being Miami’s highest-paid player, Whiteside averaged just 17 minutes per night over the final 19 games.
  • Riley said Waiters was slowed all season after ankle surgery and was “playing this year on 1 1/2 ankles.” He added that conditioning will be vital for Waiters next season. “I talked to him yesterday,” Riley said. “He knows. He has five months. If he gets his conditioning to world class condition, he can get back [to where he was for 25 excellent games two years ago]. I’m confident he will do it. His career is on the line.”
  • No matter what happens, tanking won’t be part of the Heat’s plans, Riley insists, noting how hard it is to fall into the bottom five in the league.
  • Riley encourages Udonis Haslem to take some time to decide whether he wants to return next season. Haslem has barely played over the past three years, but the Heat are willing to give him a roster spot for the veteran leadership he provides.
  • Duncan Robinson and Yante Maten, who were both signed through 2020/21 in the closing days of the season, may have a future with the team. “I give Duncan and Yante As,” Riley said. “They dominated the [G-League] the way you want them to dominate. That was the best team in the league for a while. We think both of them can develop and you don’t know how far they can go.”
  • Unless they get lucky in the lottery, the Heat will have the 13th pick in the draft, but Riley is optimistic they can find a contributor there. “I am not going to name names, but I’ve seen 30 players that are very good players,” he said. “At 13, I do think we would get something equivalent to who we have on our team right now, Bam, Justise [Winslow], Josh [Richardson] and Derrick Jones Jr.
  • Riley called Dwyane Wade‘s final season “pure love” as the Heat said goodbye to their all-time leading scorer.

Hassan Whiteside Discusses Player Option, Role

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.

Heat Notes: Whiteside, Haslem, Jack, Anderson

Heat center Hassan Whiteside is accepting his new reserve role without complaining, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Whiteside came off the bench Monday for the first time since he signed a four-year, $98MM contract in July of 2016. Whiteside, who missed the prior three games because of a hip injury, hasn’t been told how long the change will last.

“I came off a 29, 11 game, got hurt. This is what [coach Erik Spoelstra] wants to go with,” Whiteside said. “Can’t do nothing [but] just accept [it] and come out and dominate.”

That represents a change from last season, when Whiteside was vocal about his reduced playing time. Jackson notes that Spoelstra likes the inside combination of Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk and may give them more time to see how they perform as starters. Whiteside, who has a $27MM player option for next season, is trying to make the best of the situation.

“I’m going to keep coming in and try to play the best I can out there,” he said. “It’s going to be a different unit out there. I get to play with (Dwyane Wade) more. I get to look at the bright side. You’re going to play against the backup guys. It’s a little different. You can read the game a little more, kind of see what’s going on, who’s hot, what kind of schemes they’re going with. It gives you some advantages.”

There’s more today from Miami:

  • After barely playing all season, 38-year-old Udonis Haslem has gotten first-half minutes in three of Miami’s last four games, Jackson adds in the same story. Haslem, who has indicated he would like to play another year, has appeared in just seven games and logged 28 minutes. “In short bursts, he has given our team a great emotional boost,” Spoelstra said. “Not only do I trust him, but the players trust him.”
  • Spoelstra said the Heat have always been “intrigued” by veteran guard Jarrett Jack, Jackson tweets. However, the organization has no plans to add Jack, even though it has two open roster spots. The 35-year-old signed a G League contract last week and was claimed yesterday by Miami’s affiliate in Sioux Falls.
  • Ryan Anderson has only played four games and 16 minutes since being acquired from the Suns last month and he probably won’t see much more action, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel. The Heat plan to waive Anderson before his $21.26MM salary for next season becomes fully guaranteed on July 10, and they don’t want to risk an injury that might complicate that strategy.

Pat Riley Talks 2020, Playoff Race, Draft Picks

Assuming Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic exercise their player options for next season, the Heat won’t be in position to open up cap room this summer. The club would have over $129MM in guaranteed money on its books for 2019/20 in that scenario, well above the projected $109MM cap.

However, with the contracts for Whiteside and Dragic set to expire in 2020, Heat president Pat Riley believes his team can be a major player during free agency that offseason. Riley said as much in an interview with Heat reporter Jason Jackson (video link), as Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel relays.

“In 2020, we’ll have a lot of room,” Riley said. “We’ll also have the possibility to have enough room to go after two max contracts, and we’re going to do that. So we’re planning that 2020 will be the room year.”

The NBA’s latest salary cap projection calls for a $118MM cap for 2020/21. Currently, the Heat project to have about $71.6MM on their books for that season if James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk pick up ’20/21 player options. So Riley’s suggestion that the team will have two max slots may hinge on one or both of those players opting out.

While Riley and the Heat are eyeing that 2020 offseason as their next opportunity to make a major splash in free agency, it sounds like he’s not ruling out the possibility of pursuing upgrades this coming summer, when the club will have a mid-level exception available.

“We’re chasing a playoff spot and we’re young, and then we’re going to be chasing some players that could come in,” Riley said, per Winderman. “If we could get one or two players to come in with this group, this young group, then I think the sky’s the limit for this team in the next couple of years.”

Here’s more from Riley on the Heat, via Winderman:

  • If they continue to slump, the Heat – who currently rank 10th in our reverse standings – would be in position to snag a pretty favorable draft pick. However, Riley wants to see the squad continue pushing for one of the final playoff spots in the East. “It’s absolutely essential that they grow with experience, but not only experience with the playing time, but they get to the playoffs,” Riley said. “… I don’t care if you’re fighting for spot number eight or seven or five or three or the top spot or you’re fighting for a championship. You’ve got to be chasing something that’s positive.”
  • While Riley sounds far more interested in earning the No. 8 seed than in landing a top-10 pick in the draft, he dismissed the idea that he doesn’t value draft picks: “People think I don’t believe in draft picks. They’re so wrong. … Draft picks are very important to us.”
  • Riley suggests that Justise Winslow, Bam Adebayo, and Josh Richardson are the key members of the Heat’s young core going forward. However, the club president also mentioned Derrick Jones Jr., and noted that players like Dion Waiters (25), Olynyk (27), and Whiteside (28) are still fairly young.

Heat Notes: Whiteside, Spoelstra, Wade, McGruder

Hassan Whiteside has impacted the Heat in a much more positive way this season, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, who shares perspectives from some of Whiteside’s teammates and other figures around the franchise.

Whiteside, who missed part of last season due to injury, was unhappy with his playing time after his minutes dropped from 32.6 per game to 25.3. The Heat handled the matter internally at the time, working with him to become a better teammate and approach games with a team-first mentality.

“I think I’m just in a better place than what I was last year,” Whiteside said, according to Jackson. “Going through all the injuries and stuff, I was real frustrated with myself too, not being able to be there with my teammates, not being able to contribute like I wanted to. There was a lot of frustration with myself also, with the injuries. I’m just happy we’re winning. All the other stuff will come.”

Whiteside has averaged 12.5 points, 12.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 25.8 minutes per game this season with Miami. His overall mindset and willingness to trust coach Erik Spoelstra has helped improved their relationship as a result.

“Spo’s my guy,” Whiteside said. “We overcommunicate. We got an understanding. He wants to win. I want to win. We’re definitely in a better place.”

Spoelstra, who’s coached Whiteside for each of the past five seasons, is impressed with his growth and maturity. Whiteside has put forth a ton of work in recent months, including improving his quality of screens to help his team.

“Every year, he’s becoming a better basketball player and learning how to become an ultimate winner. And he’s enjoying it more,” Spoelstra said. “That’s the whole thing that’s tough for players to really grasp. The more you breathe life into somebody else and enjoy somebody else’s success, whatever it is that you are searching for yourself, you usually end up getting because of that giving mentality.”

There’s more out of Miami today:

  • Erik Spoelstra will tie Pat Riley‘s franchise record by coaching his 849th regular-season game with the Heat on Monday, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel tweets. Spoelstra, who’s in his 11th season as head coach, can pass Riley’s record on Wednesday against the Clippers.
  • Dwyane Wade played his final game in Chicago on Saturday, tallying 14 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists in nearly 27 minutes. “I have more of a connection here than anywhere else,” Wade said postgame, according to Mark Strotman of NBC Sports. “It’s my birth city. It’s the place where my vision to become an NBA player started, watching my favorite team and watching my favorite players growing up. It definitely felt different than any other city but it was a good different. It was a joyous time for me to be here.”
  • Rodney McGruder has earned a higher ground for restricted free agency this summer, Winderman details for the Sun Sentinel. McGruder, 27, met the criteria of starting half of the season (41 games) last week, raising his $1.9 million qualifying offer to $3MM. The CBA also states that the “starter criteria” could include playing 2,000 or more minutes, according to Winderman, with McGruder logging 1,185 minutes just over the halfway point of the season.

Heat Notes: Wade, Waiters, Whiteside, Winslow

Dwyane Wade has re-emerged as a vital late-game scorer for Miami, but he won’t mind sharing that role when Dion Waiters returns from ankle surgery, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Waiters returned to practice this week for the first time since his January operation, and the Heat are hoping he can make his season debut soon.

“It’ll definitely be times,” Wade said of sharing the ball with Waiters. “I mean, he’s a big-shot maker and a big-shot taker. I’m not worried about him at all at those moments. But there will be times. It’s just me understanding I’m at a different phase in my life, where it doesn’t matter.”

Wade, who holds nearly all the franchise scoring records, has made a greater effort in his final season to get his younger teammates involved in the offense, encouraging them to take shots in clutch situations.

“It’s understanding that I want other guys to be in those positions,” he added. “And I want them to succeed, obviously, but you grow in failure, as well, in those moments. So I don’t do what I used to do, which was always go get it in those moments. I don’t.”

There’s more today out of Miami:

  • The Heat are being cautious with Waiters to make sure he’s fully ready before he starts playing again, Winderman states in a question-and-answer column. The organization has seen Waiters return too early from other injuries twice before and they want to make sure he’s available for the second half of the season. They are hoping to gradually increase his minutes until he is ready to take on a sizable portion of the scoring load.
  • In the same piece, Winderman credits coach Erik Spoelstra for working center Hassan Whiteside back into the fourth-quarter mix even though the Heat were successful without him. Whiteside is seeing more time in late-game situations, although his free throw shooting remains an issue.
  • Justise Winslow had taken over point guard duties with Goran Dragic injured, but that change hasn’t been noted on All-Star ballots, where Winslow is still listed as a forward, Winderman observes in a separate story. Other Miami players out of position on the ballots are Josh Richardson and Rodney McGruder.

Spoelstra: Whiteside Leaving Bench Early Is “Unacceptable”

In last night’s loss to the Magic, Heat center Hassan Whiteside left the bench early during the closing seconds of the fourth quarter and did not return. Per ESPN, head coach Erik Spoelstra was not given an explanation at the time, surmising that Whiteside was “probably extremely upset like we all are.”

However, teammate Dwyane Wade provided a more detailed explanation, telling reporters that Whiteside simply left the bench area to return to the locker room early because he had to go to the bathroom, which Whiteside confirmed today, per David Furones of the Sun-Sentinel.

“I didn’t know it was going to be as big of a deal as it was. I couldn’t hold it. My stomach was bothering me,” Whiteside said. I had to go to the bathroom. I’m sorry if that makes me a bad guy.”

Despite Whiteside’s explanation, Spoelstra apparently still wasn’t happy, perhaps not believing that the center’s absence was completely caused by stomach issues. Per Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press, Whiteside was disciplined internally.

“It’s totally unacceptable behavior by Hassan,” Spoelstra said. “We handled it, as a team, in the locker room today. That’s all any of you need to know.”

Whiteside, who averaged just 25.3 minutes per game last season, his lowest since his first season with the Heat in 2014/15, has so far logged a similar 26.9 minutes per game this season. However, both his rebound and block numbers are up, with his 13.7 RPG good enough for third in the NBA behind Andre Drummond and DeAndre Jordan.