There have been trade rumors swirling around the Milwaukee Bucks pursuit of a starting center, and the tornado has landed on the Miami Heat’s Hassan Whiteside. The 28 year old is an interesting fit with the Bucks core. On one hand he provides everything the Bucks are looking for in their center acquisition, rim protection, great length, and he’s under contract through the 2018-2019 season, with a player option the following year.
On the more concerning hand, Whiteside has had some on court blow ups, and the beginning of his career was stalled due to maturity issues. He’s also signed to a max contract, which would make him the highest paid player on the team, making about a million more than Giannis the next two seasons.
I understand that those are concerning concerns, but all of his negatives traits are acceptable to me. When he was out of the league, maturity issues was the common blame. But, he was drafted in the second round by the Sacramento Kings, the same season they drafted DeMarcus Cousins. There haven’t been many Sacramento draft picks who weathered the dysfunctions of that organization.
Hassan viewed himself as the star max player he is today, but the Kings were all in on the Cousins-Tyreke Evans duo. This was the towards the end of the the Maloof ownership, who traded the number five pick in the draft, Thomas Robinson for cash as they walked out the exit doors. The team was on the market to be moved to Seattle, Anaheim, or Richmond, Virginia. The Kings were already invested, half heartily invested, but still invested, in a star at his position. The beginning of his career was bound to go south.
When he re-entered the league with the Miami Heat, he got ejected from multiple games for fighting. But the big man has calmed down, he doesn’t initiate bad situations anymore. He’s not perfect, he’s still very fiery, but his red flags are largely in the past. Although Hassan had bruised his knee, which affected his ability to play full minutes this season. He’s back to playing near his career average of 27 minutes per game as of late, so hopefully that’s also in the past.
Onto his actual fit with the Bucks core, Whiteside protecting the rim alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo is an exciting thought, reminds me of Olympic men’s volleyball, lay ups will be spiked. The Heat allow him to post up on the block quite often, and he’s pretty good at pivoting towards the rim and laying it in. MKE allows John Henson to work on the block quite often, so he could fit in great on both ends of the floor.
However, I think he’d be most affect if he hung around the short corner, and stepped into lob passes from the Bucks playmakers. Both Eric Bledsoe and Giannis need lanes to get to the rim, so at the very least they’d have to balance between the two. He’s not much of a passer. If you give him the ball deep, he knows he has the physical advantage, and he tries to use it. With the Bucks, he’s less needed to carry the load offensively, leaving him with energy to protect the rim.
His blocks have gone down for two consecutive years, after his career high 3.7 blocks per game in 2015-2016. This season, he’s sitting at 1.8 blocks per game, tied with Joel Embiid for fifth in the league. Obviously he’s battled through injuries, and in Milwaukee he would have the chance to chase blocks again.
Perhaps the most important skill he’d bring to the cream city, is his rebounding ability. Twenty rebound games are an occasional occurrence, which would make a huge difference for Giannis, who obviously has to bust his butt in every facet of the game. General Manager John Horst may have interest in the big man, but I don’t see why the Heat would pull the trigger. Pat Reilly deserved to be the executive of the year since LeBron returned to Cleveland, in my opinion. The Heat are ready to compete in the playoffs, and Whiteside is important for their playoff success.
Since January 13th of the 2016-17 season, the Heat are 25 games over .500 as of February 4th, 2018. Maybe he’s making more money than they want to spend on him, but I’m sure it’d be hard for the front office to break up the Dragic-Whiteside duo. DeAndre Jordan is probably an easier trade acquisition, but I think Whiteside has a higher impact level.
There aren’t many trade routes the two teams can take to match up salaries. The most obvious trade package the Bucks could offer for the Miami center is Khris Middleton and John Henson. I wouldn’t like if the Bucks added a first round pick to this package, but it may be necessary to get the deal done.
I’ll also note that John Henson has played well this season. His limitations are putting a lot of pressure on the Greek Freak, but not giving up key assets may be the best option. The trade deadline hits on Thursday, and there haven’t been much smoke coming from the Whiteside trade rumor.