Hassan Whiteside

Heat Glad Goran Dragic Deal Didn’t Happen

Goran Dragic appeared to be on his way to the Mavericks this summer as part of the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade. However, within hours of the news being reported, the deal was off and the Heat were forced to find other deals that would allow them to bring back Butler’s salary. In the end, Dragic remained in town while Hassan Whiteside was shipped to Portland and the franchise is thrilled that the Mavericks had a change of heart.

“We’re all glad that deal didn’t happen,” a Heat official tells Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

The sense of relief came not only because the team was able to keep Dragic but also because the new terms of the Butler sign-and-trade allowed the franchise to move Whiteside, a player the coaching staff didn’t want, per Jackson.

Miami was able to go from middling team in the Eastern Conference to a legit contender for homecourt advantage in round one due to the club’s ability to make shrewd moves this past offseason. Still, good fortune, like the Mavericks declining the Dragic deal, also helped.

Heat Notes: Waiters, Jones, Whiteside, Winslow

Dion Waiters appears to have returned to the Heat in good standing after serving a 10-game suspension, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Waiters becomes eligible again in this afternoon’s game with the Nets, but coach Erik Spoelstra wouldn’t say when he expects to start using him again. Waiters hasn’t played yet this season, and Miami is off to a 13-5 start with plenty of depth at the wing spots.

Waiters has been suspended twice already this season, once for a preseason argument with Spoelstra over playing time and once for an incident on a team flight that reportedly involved a THC-infused gummy. Still, he seems to have the support of his teammates, many of whom spoke out to welcome him back.

“We talk about the next step, what’s coming now, how we can build from that point on,” said Udonis Haslem, who contacted Waiters several times while he was away from the team. “Those are the conversations that I have with him, and I express my support for him. It’s not a time to turn your back and have a beat-down session. It’s time to be there for your brother.”

There’s more from Miami:

  • The Heat may get another reinforcement with the return of Derrick Jones Jr., Jackson adds in the same story. Jones, who hasn’t played since Nov. 7 because of a strained hip, is listed as probable for today’s game.
  • The offseason trade that sent Hassan Whiteside to the Trail Blazers is working out for both teams, observes Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Whiteside has given Portland a much-needed rim protector amid injuries to other centers and blocked 10 shots Friday night. He didn’t have a future in Miami because Heat management preferred Bam Adebayo and probably wouldn’t have re-signed Whiteside after his contract expires this summer. They also needed to clear cap room to complete the deal for Jimmy Butler.
  • Justise Winslow may eventually reclaim his starting role, but he has been effective in two games off the bench since returning from a concussion, Winderman notes in a separate story. It has helped that Winslow is joined on the second unit by two former starters in Goran Dragic and Kelly Olynyk. “He and Goran and KO, they already have a great chemistry, among the three of them,” Spoelstra said. “So that, those minutes with those guys, it’s almost like a bike, again. And I think that helps him find his rhythm, and he’ll continue to get better as we get more games.”

Heat Notes: Winslow, DeRozan, Leonard

Justise Winslow made his return to the lineup on Wednesday, playing 34 minutes in his first game back from a concussion. After the game, coach Erik Spoelstra said that the plan moving forward is not to have the Duke product play that much.

“I had no intention of playing him that much. K-Nunn got hit in the chest. He couldn’t play. Duncan got five fouls. So thank goodness we had Justise for those minutes,” Spo said (via Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald.

The team was also without Jimmy Butler, who missed the contest because he was not feeling well. Butler is expected to be back in action on Friday, so that will also cut into Winslow’s playing time.

Here’s more from Miami.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Northwest Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

All five Northwest teams entered the 2019/20 season with playoff aspirations, which could create an interesting situation by the trade deadline. Will several of these clubs be competing with one another for the top trade candidates on the market? Or will a couple Northwest teams fall short of their goals and pivot to selling as the deadline nears?

While it’s too early to make any sweeping judgments on the five Northwest squads, all of whom have won between five and nine games, here are three players who could emerge as trade candidates as the season progresses:

Chris Paul, PG
Oklahoma City Thunder
$38.5MM cap hit; increasing guaranteed cap hits through 2021/22

When the Thunder officially acquired Paul from Houston on July 16, many NBA observers assumed his stint in Oklahoma City would be short-lived. Four months later though, Paul is still on OKC’s roster and has played pretty well in the early going, averaging 16.7 PPG, 5.3 APG, and .462/.426/.873 shooting through 13 games.

It’s still possible that Paul will be part of two consecutive trades – no NBA teams have completed a deal since that July 16 blockbuster – but it has become increasingly obvious that his contract will be a major impediment. Even after this season, CP3 still has another two years and $85MM+ left on his deal, and the fact that it extends into the 2021/22 campaign is problematic. Given how star-studded the 2021 free agent class is expected to be, teams are reluctant to surrender significant cap space in that summer.

While the Heat have been linked to Paul most often, I’d be surprised if Miami and Oklahoma City strike a deal. A team without major free agent aspirations for 2021 would be a better fit, so perhaps a club like the Timberwolves ultimately emerges as a more serious suitor.

Jeff Teague, PG
Minnesota Timberwolves
$19MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

Speaking of the Timberwolves, they’ve made it clear that they’re seeking a long-term answer at the point guard spot, which doesn’t bode well for Teague’s long-term future in Minnesota.

Another sign Teague’s days with the Timberwolves may be numbered? When Gersson Rosas took over as the club’s president of basketball operations last summer, nine Wolves were eligible for free agency and a 10th had a non-guaranteed contract. None of those 10 players returned. Rosas will be aggressive in shaping the sort of roster he wants in Minnesota, and so far it doesn’t appear as if his vision overlaps much with that of the team’s previous decision-makers.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that Teague is a goner, but his $19MM expiring contract would make him an ideal salary-matching piece if Rosas gets aggressive at this season’s trade deadline, since it’d be easier to move than the pricey multiyear contracts belonging to Gorgui Dieng and Andrew Wiggins.

Hassan Whiteside, C
Portland Trail Blazers
$27.1MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

At this point, the Trail Blazers still badly need Whiteside. Jusuf Nurkic remains sidelined for the foreseeable future, Zach Collins figures to miss most of the season with a shoulder injury, and Pau Gasol has yet to make his Portland debut.

However, Whiteside is essentially a temporary placeholder in the middle until Nurkic is able to return. Once Nurkic is healthy, he’ll reclaim his starting spot, relegating Whiteside to a bench role. If Gasol is healthy and Collins is close to returning at that point, there will be even fewer minutes to go around in the frontcourt. And, of course, dissatisfaction with his playing time was what led Whiteside’s stint in Miami to go south.

Whether or not Whiteside ends up on the trade block will hinge in large part on the health of those other three big men. If the Blazers are comfortable with their depth up front, Whiteside’s $27MM+ expiring contract could be a useful trade chip as the club seeks much-needed help at the forward spot. But if Portland is still shorthanded at center when the deadline arrives, moving Whiteside may not be a viable option.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Hassan Whiteside Discusses Departure From Heat

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.”

Northwest Notes: Whiteside, Beasley, Schroder, Scott

Center Hassan Whiteside has never averaged more than one assist in any season but he predicts that will change dramatically in his first season with the Trail Blazers, Jason Quick of The Athletic reports.

“I think I’m going to blossom a lot here,” Whiteside told Quick. “[The Trail Blazers] have so much movement, they have so many different plays and reads, I can probably get a triple-double with assists here. You know, I’ve been getting so many assists and dimes … I’m playing more like a point-center here.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • If the Nuggets don’t sign guard Malik Beasley to an extension, they could move him prior to him becoming a restricted free agent, Mike Singer of the Denver Post speculates. Beasley recently hired Rich Paul to represent him and he views himself as a starter but there’s no spot in the lineup for him, Singer continues. If the Nuggets offer Beasley in the $10-11MM annual range and he turns it down, they could theoretically try to trade him for a first-round pick after giving up next June’s first-rounder for Jerami Grant, Singer adds.
  • With Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on the roster, Dennis Schroder‘s playing time would seemingly take a hit. Thunder GM Sam Presti insists that’s not the case, as he detailed to Erik Horne of The Oklahoman“There probably will be some discovery with how we see the team develop over the course of time, and (coach) Billy (Donovan) has got to make sure that the team is growing through the season and not just staying fixated because that’s how we started. And Dennis will be a huge … part of the team. He’s just that talented.”
  • Point guard Mike Scott had reportedly agreed to a one-year contract with the Jazz but he was not listed on the training camp roster that the club released on Friday. Scott, not to be confused with the Sixers forward who shares the same name, has spent the last four seasons overseas after coming out of Idaho in 2015. It’s still possible that Scott could be added, though the Jazz would have to drop someone from the 20-man roster.

Blazers Notes: Hood, Kanter, McCollum, Aldridge

Shooting guard Rodney Hood surprised the Trail Blazers by accepting the $5.72MM taxpayer mid-level exception, Jason Quick of The Athletic reports.

Portland was hoping to bring back center Enes Kanter at that number, but he balked. Blazers GM Neil Olshey thought Hood wanted more in free agency but was pleasantly surprised by Hood’s decision.

Olshey then shifted gears to finding a starting-quality center and got involved in the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade to Miami, winding up with Hassan Whiteside by dealing Maurice Harkless and Meyers Leonard.

We have more on the Blazers:

  • Backcourt partners CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard are now locked up long-term after McCollum signed a three-year, $100MM extension and they’re excited about that prospect, as he told Quick in a separate story. “It’s a special time,” McCollum said. “(Lillard and I) talked about being in Portland, making a staple here and winning a championship here, and all those things. We’ve crossed off a lot of goals individually and collectively, but I think that both of us being here for the long haul, and both of us being able to grow together and win together is something that people will remember for a long time.”
  • Pau Gasol, who recently signed with the Blazers, said former Spurs teammate LaMarcus Aldridge has spoken highly of Portland and may want to play there again, Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report tweets. Aldridge said last season he and Lillard had spoken about the prospect of becoming teammates again. Aldridge’s $24MM contract for the 2020/21 season is not guaranteed, so it’s conceivable that could occur as soon as next summer.
  • If you missed the details on McCollum’s extension, you can find it all here.

Northwest Notes: Whiteside, Thunder, Goodwin

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.

Northwest Notes: Whiteside, Grant, Gilgeous-Alexander, Jazz

Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard believes he can bring out the best of Hassan Whiteside, the enigmatic center acquired from the Heat as part of the multi-team Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade. Lillard has a good friendship with Whiteside and that should help prevent Whiteside from getting over-emotional, according to Jason Quick of The Athletic.

“I said, ‘So this is what this is going to come down to: If in the middle of the game, you are not getting the ball and you mad, and you felt like somebody should have done something, you come and say something to me,” Lillard said. “And if (Trail Blazers) Coach (Terry Stotts) is getting on you, or Coach takes you out and you get mad at Coach, me and you have to be able to communicate. Even if we argue, that’s fine. But we have to be able to get through to each other.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Nuggets coach Michael Malone is thrilled with the acquisition of forward Jerami Grant from the Thunder, as he told Alex Labidou of the team’s website. He believes Grant will mesh well with franchise player Nikola Jokic and significantly improve the team’s defense. “Watching film, he’s guarded Damian Lillard, James Harden, Anthony Davis, the guy can guard anybody,” Malone said. “I think that versatility is exciting.”
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander gives the Thunder a long-term answer at point guard who may have a better future than Paul George, Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman writes. Gilgeous-Alexander is nine years younger than George, Tramel notes, and he displayed better defensive and shooting skills than Russell Westbrook did in his rookie year.
  • Jazz center Rudy Gobert shrugs off the Clippers’ acquisitions of Kawhi Leonard and George, confident that the Jazz have done enough this offseason to become serious contenders. “We don’t want to pay too much attention into what the other teams are doing,” Gobert told Tony Jones of The Athletic. “We want to keep working hard, and we want to stay hungry. We know what we have to do. Whenever we step out onto the court, the goal is to win. We know that we have a chance to do some good things this year. But we want to take things one step at a time.”
  • The Timberwolves have brought back Bryan Gates as an assistant coach under Ryan Saunders, according to an Associated Press report. Gates has been on the Kings’ staff the last three seasons but spent the 2015/16 season with Minnesota.

Heat Acquire Jimmy Butler In Sign-And-Trade

The Heat have officially acquired Jimmy Butler from the Sixers in a sign-and-trade deal that also includes the Trail Blazers and the Clippers, according to press releases from Miami and Philadelphia.

The Heat also acquired big man Meyers Leonard from the Trail Blazers and cash considerations from the Clippers. Miami sent shooting guard Josh Richardson to Philadelphia, center Hassan Whiteside to the Blazers and a conditional first-round pick to the Clippers. The Clippers also received forward Maurice Harkless from Portland and the draft rights to 2017 second-round pick Mathias Lessort from the Sixers.

The Clippers and Blazers have also confirmed the swap.

The 2023 first-rounder that the Heat forwarded to the Clippers, which is lottery-protected through 2025 and unprotected in 2026, was subsequently moved to the Thunder as part of the agreed-upon Paul George blockbuster.

Butler inked a four-year, $141MM contract with the Heat. Miami waived forward Ryan Anderson and stretched his contract in order to stay below the hard cap and complete the sign-and-trade.

“Jimmy’s leadership, tenacity, professionalism, defensive disposition and his ability to create his own shot will improve our roster immediately,” Miami president Pat Riley said in the press release. “Any time you can add a four-time All-Star to your roster, you make that move. Meyers is a versatile big, a great shooter, can play inside and block shots. The addition of both men puts us in a great position to win.”

The disgruntled Butler was dealt by Minnesota to Philadelphia last season. The Sixers wanted to retain Butler but couldn’t convince him to stay and got something for him via the sign-and-trade mechanism. In 65 total games for the Wolves and Sixers last season, Butler averaged 18.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.0 APG, and 1.9 SPG with a .462/.347/.855 shooting line. Richardson averaged a career-high 16.6 PPG and 4.1 APG last season.

Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey called the acquisition of Whiteside an “impact move for our roster.” The Blazers were looking for a starting center with Jusuf Nurkic on the mend from a serious leg injury.