Should Dallas Pursue Hassan Whiteside…Again?
By Isaac Harris
The Dallas Mavericks pursued Hassan Whiteside in free agency a few years ago. Should they pursue him again this summer?
It was just two years ago that the 27-year-old Hassan Whiteside was set to hit unrestricted free agency coming off a season in Miami where he averaged 14 points and 11 boards a game.
If Miami were to keep their new big man of the future, they knew that anything outside of the max wasn’t going to be an option as another team had made it very clear of their intentions to pursue him in free agency.
The Dallas Mavericks.
ESPN’s Tim MacMahon went on the radio in Miami prior to free agency where he said “the Dallas Mavericks will be getting the first meeting with Whiteside when the clock hits 12:01 a.m on July 1st.”
Cuban got his meeting with Whiteside, but the young big man elected for more money as the Heat could offer more money than the Mavericks. He signed a four-year, $98 million deal to return to South Beach.
Both Whiteside and the Mavericks moved on, but neither party has really stricken gold with their situations. Dallas is still looking for a long-term center while Whiteside is still looking for an expanded role in the offense.
Whiteside would have his best season last year in Miami posting averages of 17 points and 14 rebounds a game, but has fallen out of favor with the coaching staff this season and his numbers resemble that.
During the 2017-18 season, Whiteside is averaging 14 points and 11 rebounds a game on just 25 minutes a night; his lowest average of minutes in the last three years. With Erik Spoelstra electing for a much quicker lineup, it has resulted in Whiteside sitting the bench for long stretches in the fourth quarter.
In their most recent game against the Nets, Whiteside didn’t play a single minute in the fourth quarter and sounded off to reporters about it after the game.
“It’s annoying. We shouldn’t. Why are we matching up? We’ve got one of the best centers in the league. Why are we matching up?” Whiteside told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.
“A lot of teams don’t have a good center. They are going to use their strengths. It’s bull [expletive]. It’s really bull [expletive], man. There are a lot of teams that can use a center. [Expletive]. That’s one of them. That’s bull [expletive],” Whiteside continued to the Miami Herald.
Of course, Whiteside didn’t stop there either.
“I don’t know if it’s because I’m on a minutes restriction. The minutes have been like that all year. It’s really frustrating. It’s been frustrating. It’s tough. I don’t know, man. It’s crazy. I don’t understand it,” Whiteside continued.
After a fine by the team for his comments, now the speculation begins on his future with the franchise.
Whiteside is in the middle of the second year of his $98 million deal. He is due $25.4 million for the 2018-19 season with a player option in 2019-20 for $27 million. With his high cap number combined with what seems like a strained relationship, will Miami try to unload him this summer and get his money off the books?
Should the Dallas Mavericks pursue him for a second time?
If they were willing to pay him similar two years ago, has things changed now?
In my opinion, it has a lot has to do with their draft pick this summer that looks to be in the top five or six on draft night. If they walk away with someone like Jaren Jackson Jr. or Mohamed Bamba in June, then pursuing a center making over $25 million a year probably wouldn’t make sense.
Another thing to consider is Whiteside’s age as he will already be 29 years old entering the offseason. Almost 10 years older than Dennis Smith Jr. and the new draft pick.
Speaking of Dennis Smith Jr., Whiteside seems to be noticing the rook’s recent play.
But let’s play the hypothetical game. What if Dallas gets a wing in the draft and is still left with a hole in the middle heading into the summer? What could the Mavs realistically offer and what would Miami even want for Whiteside if they shopped him.
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Before the draft, Wesley Matthews has to decide on his player option worth $18.6 million that he will almost for certain pick up. He immediately becomes an expiring contract.
What if Dallas offered the expiring contract of Matthews and one of their second round picks they own this year for Whiteside?
For Miami, you would save $7 million in cap space this season and $27 million next summer. Matthews is just a couple of years older than Whiteside and would give the Heat another wing that can hit the outside shot and play multiple positions.
They would gain a second round pick this year and Matthews could also be used at the trade deadline as a high-priced expiring contract.
For the Mavericks, would the money be worth it for Whiteside?
In this hypothetical deal, they would lose $7 million in cap this summer and $27 million next summer as Whiteside will most likely pick up the option.
Dallas would then move into the future with Smith Jr., Barnes, the 2018 first round pick, Whiteside and whoever they add in free agency in addition to their returning veterans. Could a core similar to this get the Mavericks back to the playoffs over the next couple of years?
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It is unsure whether Dallas would even show interest in trading for the disgruntled center, but if they did, there could be options on the table to satisfy both sides.