The NBA trade rumors are swirling in South Beach, with reports that Hassan Whiteside is likely headed away from the Miami Heat and possibly setting the team up for a run at mega free agent Kevin Durant.
The Heat have one of the best defensive big men in the league with Whiteside, who has an NBA best 3.9 blocks per game. But he is set to become a free agent after this season, and the Heat are set to give him a huge raise if they want to keep him on the roster.
With close to $40 million already tied up in contracts for Chris Bosh and Goran Dragic, the Miami Heat have a lot of decisions to make, Fansided noted.
The NBA trade rumors surrounding Hassan Whiteside could be linked to a desire to land Kevin Durant, the report noted.
“Another problem with keeping Whiteside around is that even if the Heat give up the ton of money it will take to keep him around on a max contract, they harm themselves in the running for top free agents like Kevin Durant in the process. Yes, it may not be likely they land him against all the other competition and the Oklahoma City Thunder themselves, but going after Durant is what pretty much everyone wants to try.
“The matter of Durant’s future isn’t important here, though. The Heat have been hit by injuries recently which has emphasized their lack of depth, they rank just 22nd in the NBA for offensive efficiency and they rank 26th in made threes per game (6.3). It’s safe to say they need to make some adjustments in free agency if they want to have an offense that can carry them up the Eastern Conference.”
Hassan Whiteside could also suffer the same fate of a few other big men at the trade deadline. As teams like the Golden State Warriors tear up the league with a fast, deep-shooting lineup, teams hoping to compete are shedding their big and lumbering players. The Cleveland Cavaliers are rumored to be shopping Timofey Mozgov, who was exposed as too slow to keep up with the smaller, faster lineup the Warriors used to blow out the Cavaliers last week.
Whiteside himself has spoken about what it might have been like if he played in one of the NBA’s bygone eras, when big men ruled.
“I wonder,” Whiteside told USA Today. “But that wasn’t the era I was born in. It would’ve been a little different.”
Whiteside has faced criticism that he has a tendency to lag on defense, sometimes cheating to try for a block.
“Just different things, like guys try to say that blocking shots is not defense,” Whiteside said. “That’s shocking to me. Different things, some of the crazy numbers they come up with.”
The Miami Heat aren’t the only one with NBA trade rumors tying them to Kevin Durant.
REPORT: Kevin Durant May Sign Opt-Out Deal To Enter Free Agency With Russell Westbrook: https://t.co/k2mIJQpz6H pic.twitter.com/d4a4N7axP7
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) January 26, 2016
A number of other teams are reportedly positioning themselves to make a run at Durant, who many believe will opt out to enter free agency after this season.
Kevin Durant asked if he had more clarity in what he wants in free agency pic.twitter.com/HrRRwruuZs
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) January 26, 2016
Durant hasn’t given much indication what he intends to do, at least publicly.
Meanwhile, the NBA trade rumors around Hassan Whiteside and the Miami Heat continue, with the Boston Celtics, New Orleans Pelicans, and Brooklyn Nets all being floated around as possible destinations.
[Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images]