With the likelihood of a reduced cap, and only having the mid-level to use, the Portland Trail Blazers may have to let Hassan Whiteside find a new home.
Hassan Whiteside may be too expensive for the Portland Trail Blazers to bring back in the recently announced free agency period in October of this year. With the chance of a reduced salary cap, the lack of cap space, and then only having the mid-level exception to use, it’s probably the right idea to let Whiteside walk.
They could use his bird-rights to go over the cap and re-sign him, but after the cost-cutting moves we saw this year, that isn’t looking likely.
Fans will miss his shot-blocking and rebounding, but the Blazers’ inability to even get close to his previous yearly salary of $27 million, probably means he is gone. He was destined to be a backup behind Jusuf Nurkic anyway, so even paying him $15 million a year would be a waste.
Whiteside’s market isn’t great, as the demand for seven-footers who can’t shoot and aren’t great defenders isn’t very high.
Three teams could use his services though.
Whiteside destination number one – Charlotte Hornets
The Charlotte Hornets have a large amount of cap space in the upcoming free agency. With a porous defense and the mediocre Cody Zeller as their only big man, they could use a backup in a market where they are unlikely to be able to sign any decent free agents.
Though it’s not a match made in heaven, sometimes cap teams give one-year balloon payments to free agents if they are struggling to spend their cap space on longer-term deals. The Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers have both done this recently in the cases of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and J.J. Redick.
The seven-foot Zeller is a perfectly fine replacement center. Averaging 22.9 minutes a night over his career, he could split minutes with Whiteside on a nightly basis. Zeller isn’t a particularly good rebounder or shot-blocker. Still, he is a better passer than Whiteside, and the two could provide the Hornets with different backlines dependent on the lineup, or the opposition.
Charlotte isn’t a premium free agent destination, so overpaying for one year makes sense. With around $30 million in cap room, they could give between $14 and $18 million to Whiteside, and still leave themselves with enough money to sign another starter or a couple of team value deals.
With Zeller only having one year left on his contract, he and Whiteside could go head to head to decide who had the starting spot and a longterm deal from 2022 onwards.
Being bottom five in both rebounding and shot-blocking in the 2020 regular season, they could use a guy like Whiteside. They don’t have playoff ambitions, so Whiteside’s shortcomings don’t matter as much.