The Miami Heat put the NBA into overdrive with the acquirement of LeBron James through free agency and the trade for Chris Bosh in the summer of 2010. The Heat, with James, Bosh and longtime Heat guard Dwyane Wade, would form a big three, making the NBA play catch-up with lucrative free agency signings and trades. The Heat secured four straight Eastern Conference Championships, four NBA Finals appearances, and two NBA Championships. After James left for the opportunity to return home to Cleveland in 2014, the Heat and the NBA have adjusted to the small-ball craze which began with the San Antonio Spurs and was enhanced by the Golden State Warriors the past few seasons. For the Heat, things began to show a harsh decline for a team that was poised to be an NBA dynasty. Bosh hasn’t played after being diagnosed with deadly blood clots in February of this year and Wade signed on to play for the Chicago Bulls in the summer.
Enter the Hassan Whiteside era, who in 2014-15 emerged as one of the NBA’s greatest novelties Whiteside, who spent two seasons in the NBA D-League and overseas playing in China, signed on to play for the Heat for the 2014-15 season and became one of the NBA’s most feared defenders and double-double threats. After registering 11.8 points and 10 rebounds per game in 2014-15, Whiteside stepped up his game for the 2015-16 NBA season, averaging 14.2 points and 11.8 rebounds per game, while also leading the NBA in blocks with 3.7 per game. He also made the NBA’s All-Defensive second team and secured a
He also made the NBA’s All-Defensive second team and secured a four-year, $98 million contract, taking advantage of the NBA’s increasing CBA salary cap. This season, Whiteside is showing he’s made the leap into the NBA’s elite group of big men, averaging 17.6 points and 14.8 rebounds per game. Despite Whiteside’s monster stats, the Heat have stumbled to a 9-19 record and is currently five games out from the eighth seed of the NBA’s Eastern Conference playoffs. So, would this mean that the Miami Heat would consider exploring Whiteside as trade bait? Michael Saenz of Sir Charles In Charge says yes.
“There are a number of factors in determining whether it would be “smart” for the Heat to keep or trade Hassan away. Perhaps the biggest factor, though, is what they would be getting in exchange. The direction of the franchise also dictates whether or not they should move an asset like Whiteside.”
“What does Riley have in mind? Is he willing to blow it all up and begin a complete rebuild? If so, trading Whiteside would actually help the cause. Add a draft pick or two, and potentially a young prospect would be the right move as the team begins from scratch.”
“However, if Riley believes that he can make this a quick rebuild for the Heat, then perhaps keeping Whiteside would actually be valuable for this team moving forward.”
Saenz considers the Warriors to be a legit trade spot for Whiteside, in which this move could also put the NBA in a tailspin.
“Hassan To The Warriors?”
“If you thought I was crazy for suggesting a Whiteside-McCollum swap, you’re going to want to check me into an institution after this idea. But, give it a chance.”
“A trade package around Klay Thompson and Hassan Whiteside. The Golden State Warriors would get a center to solidify their interior defense and the Heat would get a true franchise player. Again, the Warriors don’t necessarily NEED Thompson; not with Kevin Durant.”
Conventional wisdom would state that an NBA team should attempt to work with a player whom just signed a maximum contract, before considering offering the player up for a trade. What works for the Miami Heat is that their days of being a perennial power in the NBA is long gone and the shift toward perimeter based basketball has made the need for traditional big men obsolete. Whiteside is an efficient shooter, connecting on 54 percent of his field goals but he doesn’t stretch the floor the way Karl-Anthony Towns does. Which makes the potential trade of Whiteside difficult; the Heat have committed to Whiteside and may have to let his experiment play out. A Whiteside trade would shake the NBA, though, letting players know that no matter the contract signed or when it was signed, you can never get too comfortable.
[Featured Image by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images]