If trends continue, the Miami Heat is set to have a fantastic summer. The Heat entered this year's free agency period with virtually zero salary-cap space, way too many athletic-but-ultimately-mediocre dudes crowding the lineup, and no clear superstar. They seemed destined for years of mediocrity.
But as of this morning, the Heat is on the verge of trading to take All-NBA talent and locker-room-destroyer Jimmy Butler from the Sixers — and, perhaps more important, have finally rid themselves of perennial underachiever Hassan Whiteside.
Now, Whiteside has jumped on Instagram Live to lob some backhanded insults at the Heat. He filmed himself this morning screaming, "We've got shooters! We've got shooters!" from the inside of a car while looking downright elated to be leaving Miami. Portland certainly does have a few All-NBA-level shooting talents on its squad, but to Heat fans, the post is sure to come across as a snub at his former teammates.
Generally speaking, players don't publicly celebrate getting traded — trades uproot players' lives and are sometimes carried out against a player's will. But not our boy Hassan. Whiteside pretty clearly hated his time playing for the Heat and was ready to move on.
ESPN's NBA whisperer Adrian Wojnarowski first reported this afternoon that the Heat dealt Whiteside to Portland for two players — center Meyers Leonard and small forward Maurice Harkless. The Heat is still trying to work out a deal that clears enough salary-cap space to bring Butler to Miami, but, in a darkly hilarious twist, the Whiteside deal doesn't actually give the Heat the ability to sign Butler, according to the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson. The Heat seemingly just wanted the Whiteside era to end.
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And why wouldn't they? Whiteside and the team appeared to be at odds for years. Whiteside is a man gifted with absolutely immense physical talents who either can't or wouldn't push himself to compete during close or vital games. The dude would just absolutely vanish during games when it mattered most. Last December, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra benched Whiteside during the fourth quarter of a game against the Orlando Magic, and Whiteside responded by leaving the bench entirely and vanishing to the locker room. (He claimed he needed to go the bathroom.)
In the meantime, Whiteside was a constant source of off-court drama: He bought a $50,000 M16 assault rifle last year and someone promptly stole it from his Rolls-Royce. This year, court records alleged that ex-Stormy Daniels lawyer and accused crime-doer Michael Avenatti stole nearly $3 million from Whiteside. The Heat star allegedly sent Avenatti the money with the understanding that the lawyer would pay Whiteside's ex-girlfriend. Instead, Avenatti allegedly stole the money and bought a jet. (The public still doesn't know why Whiteside had to pay his ex-girlfriend millions of dollars in the first place.)
By last March, the Heat had pretty much permanently given Whiteside a bench role, which is not something any team wants to say about a guy getting paid $98 million over four years. Throughout the last year, lead New Times sports-take writer Ryan Yousefi has begged the Heat to find a way to dump Whiteside's contract. Frankly, the Heat had committed so much money to Whiteside that it often appeared trading him was impossible.
But as of today, he's finally gone. And both Heat fans and Whiteside himself seem pretty darn happy about it.