Hassan Whiteside

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.

Heat’s Jimmy Butler Sign-And-Trade Deal To Include Clippers, Blazers

7:58pm: The 2023 first-round pick being sent from the Heat to Clippers will be lottery-protected through 2025, then unprotected in 2026, tweets Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald.

5:00pm: The Clippers will receive a protected 2023 first-round pick from the Heat in the deal, according to ESPN’s full report.

4:17pm: The sign-and-trade deal that will send Jimmy Butler to the Heat and Josh Richardson to the Sixers has been agreed upon, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe (Twitter link).

As Wojnarowski explains (via Twitter), the trade between the Trail Blazers and Heat that will send Hassan Whiteside to Portland is becoming part of the transaction, with Maurice Harkless being re-routed to the Clippers to make it a four-team deal.

The Clippers will also receive a future first-round pick from Miami, according to Wojnarowski. Since the Heat have already traded their 2021 first-round selection to the Clippers and can’t give away consecutive future first-rounders, the next one that is trade-eligible would be the 2023 selection, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

As part of the four-team swap, the Sixers will send the draft rights to 2017 second-rounder Mathias Lessort to the Clippers, reports Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link).

As of now then, this is what the deal would look like:

After acquiring Harkless, the Clippers will still have a maximum-salary slot available in the event that Kawhi Leonard decides to join them, tweets Marks. It would be a tight fit though, notes ESPN’s Zach Lowe, who tweets that the club might have to renounce a couple of small cap holds. Obviously, if Leonard decides to go elsewhere, that wouldn’t be necessary.

As for the Heat, they had let Goran Dragic‘s camp know that they’d likely to need to move the point guard in order to complete the Butler acquisition, but that shouldn’t be necessary after all, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Still, as Marks points out (via Twitter), Miami will have to make an additional move to make sure it gets below the hard cap $138.9MM that applies to teams that acquire a player via sign-and-trade. Waiving and stretching Ryan Anderson‘s contract looks like the most logical path for the Heat.

We have more details in other stories on the Butler/Richardson aspect of this deal, as well as the Blazers’ Whiteside acquisition.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Heat To Trade Hassan Whiteside To Blazers

The Heat have reached an agreement on a trade to send center Hassan Whiteside to the Trail Blazers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com, who reports (via Twitter) that Portland is giving up Maurice Harkless and Meyers Leonard in the deal.

[UPDATE: Harkless to be re-routed to Clippers in four-team trade]

In acquiring Whiteside, the Blazers will secure a replacement at the five for Enes Kanter, who looks like a good bet to sign elsewhere. Whiteside figures to start at center for the Trail Blazers while Jusuf Nurkic continues to recover from a leg injury that is expected to sideline him well into the 2019/20 regular season.

Whiteside, 30, saw his role in Miami decline over the last couple years, but continued to put up strong numbers on a per-minute basis. In 72 games in 2018/19, the big man averaged 12.3 PPG, 11.3 RPG, and 1.9 BPG in just 23.3 minutes per contest.

While the Blazers will fortify their center position in the deal, their perimeter defense will take another hit. Having already lost Al-Farouq Aminu in free agency to Orlando, Portland will now part with Harkless as well. Newly-acquired forward Kent Bazemore will be leaned on heavily to help replace that duo.

As for the Heat, they’ll move on from Whiteside, who hadn’t been thrilled about having his minutes cut back during the last two seasons, publicly griping about his role on more than one occasion. Miami won’t have to take back any long-term salary in the deal, as all three players are on expiring contracts, and will save about $4.8MM based on the difference in salaries between Whiteside ($27.1MM) and the combo of Leonard ($11.3MM) and Harkless ($11MM).

Those savings could come in handy, since the Heat will face a hard cap of $138.9MM by acquiring Jimmy Butler via sign-and-trade. Speaking of that Butler trade, cap expert Albert Nahmad notes (via Twitter) that moving Whiteside won’t help solve the salary-matching issue Miami faces in that deal, so at least one more move will be required.

With Whiteside out of the picture, Bam Adebayo projects to take an ever larger role in Miami’s frontcourt.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Heat Notes: Riley, Whiteside, Dragic, Haslem

Heat president Pat Riley spoke about the state of the Heat recently, and Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald passes along some of the more relevant take-aways from Riley’s comments.

Despite Justice Winslow‘s success running the point while Goran Dragic was injured last season, Riley expects Dragic to be the team’s starting point guard for the 2019/20 season. Riley also expects both Dion Waiters and James Johnson to come back strong from injuries and play a significant role.

Regarding first-round pick Tyler Herro, Riley said that the 19-year-old guard “has proven in his short time at Kentucky that he’s not only a great shooter, but he’s a competitor, he’s tough, and he can defend. We’re very excited to have him.”

Riley declined to comment on the 32nd overall pick KZ Okpala, as his rights are still owned by the Pacers. He likewise declined to speak about Bol Bol, as his rights are being traded to the Nuggets.

There’s more out of Miami this afternoon from Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel:

  • Cap-strapped after both Hassan Whiteside  and Dragic opted into their player options for the 2019/20 season, the Heat are in somewhat of a holding pattern until they are able to clear those two off their books in the summer of 2020. For now, Pat Riley seems keen on encouraging Heat fans to root their young team on towards a playoff berth next season (link).
  • The Heat are likely to carry 14 players on their roster during the 2019/20 season in order to avoid the luxury tax, but will Udonis Haslem be that 14th-man (link)? It’s a possibility, and Haslem has said that his family with play a primary role in his retirement decision.
  • The conundrum the Heat face with Whiteside next season is that while he may have the chance to stay healthy and rediscover his game, how does that help Miami if they’re not a championship contender (link)? Whiteside’s contract ends after the 2019/20 season, and if the Heat are serious about developing their young core, Whiteside doesn’t really have a place on the roster past this season, so letting him stuff the stat sheet on a mediocre team for one season really does the Heat no good.

Hassan Whiteside Opts In For 2019/20

JUNE 21, 11:49am: Whiteside has officially exercised his 2019/20 player option, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

JUNE 21, 12:04am: Heat president Pat Riley confirms that Whiteside will opt in, adding that the center hasn’t requested a trade and he expects Whiteside to be on the team, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

JUNE 18, 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.

JUNE 18, 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.
  • 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.