According to a Monday night report, it is looking like the Miami Heat can expect big man Hassan Whiteside to opt in to the final year of his current contract with the team.
“In a decision that has been fully expected, center Hassan Whiteside intends to opt into the final season of his contract barring something completely unforeseen developing in the coming days, according to a league source,” Jackson wrote.
“Whiteside stands to make $27.1 million next season and plans to inform the Heat in the days before the June 29 deadline. Once he formally opts in, the Heat will be about $4 million over the projected $132 million luxury tax threshold, factoring in Miami’s first-round draft pick and forward Ryan Anderson’s expected buyout.”
“Whiteside, who would like to play more than the 17 minutes he averaged during the final 19 games but never complained publicly about it, said of his opt out after the season that he was ‘definitely going to weigh my options. It’s definitely a decision I got to make and do the best for me. I feel like if I’m playing, I’m going to produce so it will take care of itself.’”
As Jackson indicated, Whiteside had previously made it sound as though his opting out of the deal was a real possibility. The truth is that it never seemed to be wholly realistic for the big man to opt out because he would likely have earned just a fraction of his $27.1 million paycheck on the open market.
While Whiteside has been a perennial double-double performer, averaging 12.3 points and 11.3 rebounds for his career, he has often been both an on and off-court distraction. Beyond that, in the changing NBA, where centers are expected to be able to somewhat stretch the court, Whiteside is very much built in the model of the classic post-up big.
While it seems likely that this upcoming season will be Whiteside’s last with the Heat, it is possible that he will take his game to the next level as he looks to cement his legacy with the team and attract suitors for next summer’s free agency market.