During former Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside’s time with the team, his inconsistent play and massive remaining contract made him difficult for the team to trade.
Now playing for the Portland Trail Blazers, Whiteside believes that a key reason that the Heat dealt him this past summer was because of his age.
Shandel Richardson of The Athletic interviewed Whiteside, who noted the Heat’s desire to revamp their roster and the fact that he turned 30 in June as factors connected to the deal. In the four-team trade, the Heat received big man Meyers Leonard.
“I think the deciding factor was I got older,” Whiteside said. “They bring in younger guys. I had four or five years at it. We got to the second round of the playoffs. We made the playoffs a couple of times. They just wanted to bring in new guys. That’s the business of it. It’s tough, especially when you’re seeing guys every day. But I’m used to it. I’ve played on so many teams. I’m not taking anything personal. I’m happy on my new team. I don’t really have anything much to say about the Heat. That chapter is over. I said my goodbyes. We had great memories. We had tough losses. That’s pretty much it for me.”
Whiteside first joined the Heat in 2014 after having played just 19 previous games in the league and spending part of his professional career in the G League. His first two seasons showed enough promise that the Heat made a huge investment in his future by signing him to a four-year, $98 million deal in July 2016
During the 2016-17 season, the contract looked to be a great investment, with Whiteside averaging 17.0 points and a league-leading 14.1 rebounds per game. However, injury trouble the following year limited him to just 54 games, while his statistical numbers for both that season and last year dropped.
Besides the dip in production, Whiteside’s inability to perform on a consistent basis and some behavior issues caused friction with Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra. That led to Spoelstra using him less during the fourth quarter and ultimately took him out of the starting lineup in favor of Bam Adebayo during the last six weeks of last season.
Whiteside is currently averaging 14.3 points and 12.0 rebounds per game with the Trail Blazers, which nearly match his output during his time with the Heat of 14.1 points and 11.9 rebounds per contest. From a financial perspective, the veteran center should have every reason to stay motivated since he’ll be a free agent at the end of this season. Any chance of getting a contract close to his current one is largely dependent on how much he can contribute in the months ahead.