The Portland Trail Blazers brought in polarizing big man Hassan Whiteside this offseason and hope to guide his career in a positive direction.
The Portland Trail Blazers brought in polarizing Center Hassan Whiteside this offseason in a move most likely designed to be a stopgap until Jusuf Nurkic is able to return from injury. While Whiteside may not be long for Portland he could prove to be one of the more interesting free agents in next year’s weak market.
Whiteside is an unquestioned talent but concerns about his attitude and overall basketball IQ have plagued him throughout his career, at one point, forcing him out of the league. The fact that he was not only able to fight his way back into the league, but was also able to secure a massive four year $98 million contract from the Miami Heat speaks to that talent
However, that contract has been heavily panned more and more each year as the Heat appeared to sour on Whiteside, decreasing his minutes year by year in favor of a younger, cheaper option in Bam Adebayo.
In Portland Whiteside has a chance to recoup some of his value. He’s slotted in as the starting Center of a team coming off a Western Conference Finals appearance and will be counted on to be the anchor of a defense tailored for someone with his skill set.
With that being said, he’ll probably still find it to be a frustrating market. The market for Centers who aren’t bonafide superstars has shifted dramatically since the summer of 2016, just ask DeMarcus Cousins.
Cousins could serve as an analog for Whiteside as a similarly volatile big man with immense talent. Cousins ended up signing with the Golden State Warriors last year on a one year $5.3 million contract after entering free agency hoping for the huge payday he’d thought he’d earned as an All-NBA player.
Now a key difference is that hopefully Whiteside will go into free agency completely healthy heading into free agency as opposed to Cousins who had ruptured his Achilles. But even after making a full recovery he signed a one year $3.4 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, again not getting the contract he had hoped for.
That could be what’s in store for the rest of Whiteside’s career as well. A series of one year contracts wandering from team to team.
This year in Portland will be a big test in that regard. It’s the first time he’ll be out of Heat culture since he became an established NBA player and the first chance we’ll get to see whether their separation was about him or them.
This season could very well shape what the rest of his career looks like. A guy who can be a key cog affixed in a winning culture or an NBA nomad going from team to team.