For Miami center Hassan Whiteside, the road to the NBA was a long and tedious one. After four seasons in Sacramento and two overseas, Whiteside fought his way back to the league as a member of the Heat.
In his first season in Miami, Whiteside proved himself as an elite rim protector with a staggering ability to score down low. Unfortunately, things haven’t panned out the way fans hoped they would and the possibility that Whiteside will be traded is higher than ever. Miami found a gem in combo big man Bam Adebayo with the 14th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, who has stepped into the Whiteside role many times when sidelined with various injuries.
Injuries continue to limit the 29-year-old’s role as he missed 28 games in the 2017-18 season. In the games he did play, Whiteside averaged 14 points, 11.4 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game on 54 percent shooting from the field. Even with a reduced role, Whiteside managed to dominate the paint by grabbing boards, blocking shots and attacking the rim.
Regardless of what doubters may believe, Whiteside can be a valuable piece for any team in need of a rim protector. Whiteside is guaranteed to make an impact on both sides of the floor for any team that takes a risk on him.
So where would he fit?
Front office executive Masai Ujiri made it abundantly clear that the Toronto Raptors are in win-now mode. By shipping DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio for Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors retooled the lineup that led them to the No. 1 seed in the East last year for a championship run.
But what if they’re not done making changes?
For the last six seasons, center Jonas Valanciunas has struggled to take the next step, averaging roughly 12 points and nine boards a night over the course of that time. The stability he provides down low could be useful for a team fighting to make the playoffs, but a team working to contend for a title could use a boost.
Trading for Whiteside not only emphasizes the team’s commitment to defense but creates a clear and defined big-three to tackle the East. The trio of guard Kyle Lowry, Leonard and Whiteside may prove to be the league’s best defensive trio.
For the second time in the past decade, the Cleveland Cavaliers have found themselves in a rebuild after the departure of LeBron James. Without the rock that carried their franchise to the limelight, the Cavs are prepared to take on the next chapter by combining what’s left of their championship DNA and an array of young piece.
After four seasons as a complementary piece, power forward Kevin Love will lead Cleveland as the final remaining member of their Big Three. The 6-foot-10 sharpshooter is the No. 1 option once again but may need some help if he hopes to return to the postseason.
Between Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith and George Hill, the Cavaliers have plenty of contracts to swap with Miami to acquire Whiteside. If they’d be willing to part with a pick, the Heat could take on a bad contract with enough draft capital in return. By pairing Love and Whiteside, head coach Tyronn Lue would have two dominant rebounders on the floor to adjust the pace of the game.
Options are limited for the Cavaliers’ front office. They can either work themselves into a rebuild or build from what they’ve got left. Similarly to the Heat themselves, Cleveland could work to pick up the pieces from the end of their championship contention. While Miami hasn’t necessarily thrived since 2014 but they’ve remained relevant while building on the fly.
Los Angeles Clippers
After the departure of center DeAndre Jordan this summer, the Clippers have found themselves in a bit of a debacle. Under the management of legend Jerry West, Los Angeles traded guard Austin Rivers to Washington for a new starting center in Marcin Gortat.
Since the end of Lob City, the Clippers have fought to return to the playoffs with a ragtag lineup of various role players that’ve found their home in LA. Led by Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams, the Clippers have their sights on the postseason, but they’ll need to address their roster first.
The Clippers currently have 17 players under contract headed into the 2018-19 season and will need to clear some roster spots before the start of the year. Throughout their roster are valuable guards on reasonable contracts and consistent mid-tier small forwards. Among those players is Tobias Harris, whose scoring prowess and unique frame make him a great asset for any team.
Whatever the package may be, Los Angeles is certainly in need of some help on the low block. Replacing Jordan with Gortat will leave a lot to be desired defensively and forces the team into a slower style of play. By replacing him with Whiteside, Los Angeles can clear some of their roster out and replace Jordan with a comparable two-way athlete.