The NBA trade deadline is this Thursday, February 8, and teams have reportedly seen the Miami Heat come up on their caller ID with increasingly regularity as the team explores all options to improve itself. With nearly zero salary-cap space, a shortage of draft picks, and a roster full of players that other teams aren't exactly tripping over one another to acquire, the Heat has limited assets at its disposal in trade talks.
One of the few options the Heat does have to offer is Hassan Whiteside, and word is some teams have already expressed interest in dealing for the Heat's seven-foot center, including the Milwaukee Bucks, who have Jabari Parker and Eric Bledsoe to trade. Some believe the Heat and Whiteside are destined to part ways, considering coach Erik Spoelstra has been increasingly willing to sit Whiteside in fourth quarters or against teams in which he has bad matchups.
The Heat could hold on to its big man, not take the cheese other teams are dangling in trade talks, and hope to improve from within this season and next, but that would be a mistake. Trading Whiteside for anything other than an assortment of future assets, expiring deals, or first-round picks would also be a monumental mistake that would likely set the Heat back on its quest to become a contender again.
The Heat should resist the urge to make a deal that improves the team today and hold out for something that improves it tomorrow. After all, Whiteside is a player capable of changing a playoff series. Pretty much whenever he wants to, he can put up a double-double in a single quarter. Few centers in the league can match up with Whiteside, making him one of Miami's rare advantages against almost anyone in the NBA.
The problem with Whiteside is he has $25 million on the books for next year and a player option for $27 million in 2019-20, and his play just isn't consistent enough to warrant the sort of deal you'd expect to see LeBron James or James Harden earn. The Heat simply will not be able to compete the next two seasons with that sort of money tied up in a player the team not only doesn't rely on in crunch time, but also often decides is best used sitting next to assistant coaches on the bench when the game is on the line.
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The Heat should find a team that believes Whiteside is a piece, not the piece, and make them pay for him. Miami wouldn't miss his play as much as some observers think. The time is now to make a deal, while teams are desperate to make a move in light of the Cavs struggling mightily in the East.
Whiteside is a great player, but his time in Miami has run its course. It's obvious the team has the parts to move on from him, especially with rookie Bam Adebayo looking like the more athletic style of center who makes more sense in today's NBA.
The Heat should be looking to the future while keeping its feisty and competitive roster together as much as possibly. They should be building around Josh Richardson,
In a perfect world, the Heat could keep Whiteside and build for the future, but that's just not how the NBA works in 2018. If Miami can find a trade partner willing to shell out assets for Whiteside, the Heat owes it to its future to strongly consider it.