Since publicly expressing his frustration with his lack of playing time with the Miami Heat, rumors started to swirl that Hassan Whiteside could be on his way out of South Beach. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald recently reported that there is “strong support” from numerous people in the Heat organization to trade the disgruntled center in the upcoming offseason.
With the emergence of Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk, the Heat have no problem in losing Hassan Whiteside this summer. However, it will be a challenge for Heat President Pat Riley to find a team who is willing to absorb the remaining two years and $52 million on his contract. Jackson suggested multiple trade scenarios on how the Heat could move Whiteside. One of the NBA teams who could potentially be the Heat’s trade partner for Whiteside is the New Orleans Pelicans.
In the proposed trade deal, the Heat will be sending Hassan Whiteside and Justise Winslow to the Pelicans for DeMarcus Cousins. With Cousins set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, the Heat-Pelicans deal could only be made possible via a sign-and-trade.
“The Heat likes Cousins and could propose a sign and trade with Whiteside and an additional player or two for cap reasons and to entice New Orleans (perhaps Justise Winslow, for starters). The Heat figures to explore this possibility.”
The deal is undeniably a no-brainer for the Heat. They will be acquiring one of the best centers in the league in exchange for a player who is clearly unhappy with the team. Unlike Hassan Whiteside, DeMarcus Cousins can space the floor, making him a better fit in the modern NBA. His ability to play as center and power forward will be beneficial for Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra since it will enable him to pair him with either Bam Adebayo or Kelly Olynyk. Though they will lose Justise Winslow in the process, the Heat still have James Johnson, who offers lots of point-forward skills.
The Pelicans are only likely to agree with the deal if DeMarcus Cousins won’t agree to re-sign a two- or three-year contract worth less than the max amount. Before he suffered an injury, the Pelicans looked determined to give Cousins a max contract. Everything changed when his season ended in January, and the Pelicans performed better without him. If the deal pushes through and the Pelicans don’t want Whiteside, Jackson suggested that the Heat could find a third team to help them facilitate the trade.