Hassan Whiteside is facing quite a decision — does he opt in to the final year of his contract with the Miami Heat, which would pay him $27 million? Or does he opt out, bet on himself, and test the free agency waters this off-season in hopes of scoring more guaranteed dollars? The most likely scenario is Whiteside grabs the $27 million owed him, plays out his Heat contract, and enters free agency next off-season.
The alternative, of course, is giving up that money to try to score, say, double that amount over a couple of more years from a team desperate enough to open its checkbook. Maybe that's the New York Knicks. Or the Phoenix Suns could strike out on bigger free agent stars and bet a less-than-max contract on Whiteside.
Whiteside's best option is one he's likely tried to avoid in the past: Whiteside should opt in on his $27 million deal with the Heat and demand a trade.
Get the money, and find a new home. It would be the best outcome for both sides. The relationship will almost assuredly end after this season anyway. It's time for the nuclear option.
Demanding a trade is never a good look, but it's Whiteside's best path to a big payday. He no longer fits into the Heat's plans. Bam Adebayo is Miami's future center. A seven-foot center with no outside-the-lane game is a dinosaur in 2019 and beyond. Whiteside is more of a liability than an advantage over an 82-game season. That's why you'll find him on the bench when the Heat is winning.
Whiteside makes no sense for the Heat moving forward. He will be nothing more than a situational role player off the bench for a team trying to rebuild for the future. He's a niche player who flashes dominance when the going is easy, but turtles when the Heat needs him most.
Oh, and he's the team's most expensive player. The Heat should hope he asks for a trade, even if its trade leverage tanks. Paying someone to take Whiteside off the team's hands would be a win at this point.
The sad part? Whiteside knows all this. He came to terms with it last season. He stopped even pretending the team was better when he started and played more minutes. He may be useful to someone, but not the Miami Heat in 2019 or future years.
The Heat rewarded Whiteside with a max contract in 2016 — and in the process pushed Dwyane Wade out the door. The hope was he would flourish, be a matchup nightmare for teams, and earn his keep. What has happened is generally the complete opposite. Only flashes of that player have shown.
For Whiteside, minutes are the key to getting paid next off-season. Opportunities in the fourth quarter will matter. Miami will give him neither of those things. Those days are over. The Heat has moved on to Adebayo.
To get paid again, Whiteside needs to find a team that needs him. Miami isn't that team. Whiteside should force the divorce, find a team desperate for his services, and make it work.
Otherwise, his agent will be selling a 30-year-old obsolete bench player. Not exactly the way to break the bank.
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