The Miami Heat have a lot of difficult decisions to make this offseason, but believe it or not, their most pressing decision isn’t the future of Chris Bosh. Rather, it’s whether they should pay Hassan Whiteside – in the words of Sekou Smith – “a monstrous sum of money.”
“Right now, he’s got to finish up a deal where he was making (roughly) $1 million,” the NBA.com writer said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “Now you’re talking about forking over $20+ million a year to a guy, who, you’re not sure about his makeup. You don’t know if he’s a guy that can handle that, that can operate and perform at a high level with that extra bit of cash thrown into the mix. I think that’s a worry for a lot of teams when you have a young talented player like that whose maturity is still in question.”
Of course, Bosh’s health may impact what the Heat do with Whiteside. The two-time NBA champion and 11-time All-Star has missed significant time each of the last two seasons due to blood clots. There is legitimate concern that Bosh, 32, may have played his last game in the NBA.
But purely in terms of finances, Whiteside poses a bigger stress.
“Obviously the Chris Bosh situation has to work itself out, but they’re already on the hook for his money,” Smith explained. “So it’s not like something’s added to what they’ve already got. Whiteside’s situation is different in that you’ve got to decide what type of investment you want to make in a young, really, really talented guy but one that you’re not 100 percent sure is a guy that can handle making max money and can continue to play and grow the way you want him to.”
Whireside, 26, averaged 14.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game this season. He is without question the premier low-post defender in the NBA. In fact, only four other players – DeAndre Jordan, Rudy Gobert, Anthony Davis and Pau Gasol – averaged even 2.0 blocks per game this season. None averaged more than 2.3.
Then there’s Whiteside, who who had more blocks than Kobe Bryant had assists.
Think about that.
Nevertheless, Whiteside has his drawbacks. Smith saw a few of them firsthand in Miami’s first-round series against Charlotte.
“You look at his body language and just watch the way he checks out of games sometimes when he’s frustrated or things aren’t going his way,” Smith said. “It’s a concern. His teammates and coaches know better than anybody else what kind of guy he is in the locker room and what kind of guy he is at practice. There’s rumblings about him not always being a great practice guy – not showing up all the time on time, practicing, things like that. All of those things factor into it when you’re talking about figuring out what to do with him long-term.”