- The Heat finally traded Hassan Whiteside, finding a partner in the Trail Blazers and bringing Meyers Leonard and Mo Harkless to South Beach. The no-brainer deal brings an end to Whiteside's complicated stay in Miami.
UPDATE: The Heat's trade sending Hassan Whiteside to Portland has expanded to a four-team deal. For analysis and grades of the new trade, click here.
The Blazers are acquiring center Hassan Whiteside from the Heat in exchange for Meyers Leonard and Moe Harkless, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. All three players are on expiring contracts. Whiteside should fill a hole at center for Portland, who will need a pick-and-roll partner for its guards with Jusuf Nurkic still recovering from the leg injury he suffered last season. For Miami, the trade opens up playing time at the five for Bam Adebayo, while also saving a little bit of money. Let’s grade the deal for each team.
Whiteside isn’t exactly a third star, but Portland has been looking for another impact player to help out Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. On paper, Whiteside makes sense. He’s an athletic rim defender and devastating finisher when focused. He can start while Nurkic recovers, and then slide to the bench and takeover the backup five role for Leonard when Nurk is healthy. Harkless became expendable after Portland brought back Rodney Hood and traded for a better shooter in Kent Bazemore.
The problem with Whiteside is that “when focused” qualifier. He often drew the ire of his veteran teammates for his inconsistent play. It was not uncommon for Miami guards to scold him during games for his lackadaisical screen setting. The Blazers don’t have veterans like Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem to keep Whiteside in check, but they do have expectations. Maybe the spectre of playing for a contender will awaken Whiteside, who can be seriously impactful when he’s giving a full effort. Ultimately, it’s a sensible risk for a guy on an expiring deal who fills a need.
Somebody please fire up Pitbull’s playoffs remix to “Timber.” I’m going to need a moment. From the moment he signed his deal in 2016, Whiteside has been a source of frustration for Heat fans. For all his talent, the team has often played better with him off the floor. He pouted when his minutes were reduced, often took subtle jabs at the coaching staff and rarely put together sustained stretches of focused play. By last season, Whiteside was taking away valuable minutes from Adebayo while not doing enough to live up to his salary.
This trade is a win-win-win for Miami. Adebayo now slots in as the starting center. Leonard and Harkless add depth at positions of need—small forward and stretch five. And the Heat save nearly $5 million in this trade, which helps their complicated math situation in the wake of the Jimmy Butler pursuit. Getting rid of Whiteside not only gets rid of the most negative force in Miami’s locker room, it opens up more playing time for a better player and maintains the Heat’s flexibility moving forward. It also means frustrated Heat fans will never have to see Whiteside lazily set a pick or half-heartedly rotate on defense ever again. The trade was a no-brainer.