Ten years after beginning his professional basketball career as a second-round draft pick of the Sacramento Kings, big man Hassan Whiteside appears to be returning to where it all started for him. According to a report by ESPN‘s Adrian Wojnarowski on Wednesday, the 31-year-old Whiteside has agreed to a one-year deal with the team, per league sources.
Whiteside is fresh off a resurgent season with the Portland Trail Blazers during which he started in 61 of his 67 appearances for the franchise and led the NBA in blocked shots per game along the way. As tracked by Basketball-Reference, the seven-foot-tall center averaged 15.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and just under three blocks in 30 minutes per contest.
Meanwhile, as noted by Wojnarowski, his player efficiency rating (PER) of 25.07 ranked eighth-best in the association — just behind LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers.
He had originally joined the team in 2019 after picking up the fourth-year option on a massive deal with the Miami Heat, which was set to pay him more than $27 million last season. In exchange, Portland parted with Moe Harkless and Meyers Leonard.
Although Whiteside spent his first two seasons as an NBA player with the Kings from 2010 to 2012, 2020-21 will actually be his first opportunity to be a meaningful contributor on the floor for the club.
Despite impressing scouts with his length, rebounding and shot-blocking ability as a collegiate star with the Marshall Thundering Herd, Whiteside slipped all the way to the 33rd pick, where he was taken by Sacramento. His battle for basketball relevancy continued for the next two years as he appeared in just 19 combined games for the Kings during his rookie and sophomore campaigns, largely being relegated to D-League duty with their affiliate club, the Reno Bighorns.
He was subsequently released by the franchise and forced to spend two years playing in Lebanon and China while awaiting his next stateside opportunity.
Whiteside eventually caught on with the Heat, for whom he was starting games and making a sizable impact in the paint in short order. During the 2016 offseason, they rewarded him for his stellar play with a four-year, $98-million pact. However, as that contract neared its end, Miami was looking to retool its roster and had decided that such a high salary didn’t match his output and/or expected role with the club going forward.
Now, following a comeback campaign in Portland, the former All-Defensive Team honoree returns to a Kings squad that just lost Bogdan Bogdanovic in free agency. The organization’s new general manager, Monte McNair, has prioritized roster flexibility as he looks to build around his young core of De’Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley III and, potentially, embattled sharpshooter Buddy Hield.