Blocks. Dunks. Triple-doubles.
Bragging. Fights. Ejections.
This is the total Whiteside Experience, an ongoing chemistry test that began last year to startling results but could blow up in Pat Riley's face. Heat fans love Whiteside, another in a long line of quality franchise big men. But has the latest tirade proven to be the breaking point?
We debate if it's time to make a move - any move - to finally end the Whiteside era in Miami.
Earnest Christian: I think it's about that time to move on from the Whiteside experience. Whether it's before the trading deadline, after the conclusion of the season or whatever, I think the alotted sample size of his days in Miami thus far tells you that he is not worth paying max level money to. I say that as a Whiteside fan. Far be it for me to not want the man to make his money especially given his story and basketball journey up to this point, however we are looking at the next phase of the Miami Heat going into the next 3-5 years which is eons of time in the NBA and worse you have to consider that Pat Riley's already on the clock to hang it all up at some point. Too much risk and very little reward at this point in time.
David Ramil: Where you see high-risk/low-reward, I see the opposite. While I don't disagree that there have been problems with Whiteside, the reality is that his salary makes him the best value in the NBA and it's not even close. He's a top-five rebounder, second in field-goal percentage and leads the league in blocks per game by a wide margin. If Riley's main goal is to win now as he's stated time and again, then Whiteside is the best option. He's become too intrinsic a part of the team to cut loose at this point; Miami is simply stuck with him. His value was low this past summer because there were still questions about being able to be consistently great. Now that he's producing at a high level, he's essential to Miami's success. Part of the problem is that the team was assembled poorly, without a clear idea of how the pieces would fit together.
EC: At a reasonable price, YES I do believe he is worth the risk. That's precisely the problem. It only takes one team -- just one desperate franchise to set the market for Whiteside. My gut feeling is that it will happen. He's already considered by many as one of the five most sought after potential free agents to hit the market in July. Miami is better served worse case scenario to letting someone else set the market instead of low balling on him and making them look as cheap. The good thing is there's still a few more months of basketball to assess and if necessary, reassess. -- if of course he survives the February 18th trading deadline.
DR: But that's the issue, isn't it? We're not debating if Riley should offer him a max-level contract (he shouldn't) but whether or not it's essential to trade him prior to the NBA's deadline. At his current salary, he's the best value for the team, especially because of his gaudy production. What you'd get in return is minimal in comparison to what Whiteside provides, tantrums and all. So then the issue becomes, in my eyes, whether you're willing to include Whiteside as part of a larger trade package that could net a return in value, specifically to address a glaring weakness (Hello, three-point shooting!)
Miami's poor floor spacing will ultimately be their downfall this season and the loss of Tyler Johnson as well as the inconsistent shooting from everyone else only makes things worse. Including Whiteside along with Luol Deng or Josh McRoberts would help but you'd lose Deng's solid-if-unspectacular perimeter defense and the unrealized potential of McRoberts, something Miami has been waiting to see since they signed him two summers ago. Put bluntly, the team needs Whiteside this season, despite their limited ceiling and they'd be served best by waiting until the summer and then building the team around their four pillars (Wade/Bosh/Dragic/Winslow).
EC: If they can package a deal to get McRoberts out of here I'm game. At this point the numerous injuries which now seems weekly makes it easier to part ways with him in a package and a reset button on a move that was big on potential but disappointing in progress and injuries. Deng I'm still stubborn on because when Whiteside was out due to injury his production picked up drastically. This will be an interesting week for sure.
DR: No doubt about it. I see why Whiteside has been a problem and that he might not fit the team's established culture. Still, that culture seems split, between wanting to win and wanting to do things the "right" way. You're not luring a superstar here that fits Miami's mold this season, and you're likely to lose Hassan this summer to free agency anyway. Stay the course, find a way to win now and see where it takes you. A pleasant surprise - much like Whiteside's career with the Heat - could be the result.