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Can Riley trade Whiteside?

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Riley faced a similar seemingly difficult task of trading a past-his-prime Shaquille O’Neal 10 years ago.

Philadelphia 76ers v Miami Heat - Game Four Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

In the day since the Miami Heat’s 30th season wrapped up, the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson reported that, “Hassan Whiteside likely will be made available.” And Jackson seems to report that a parting might be in the best interest of Whiteside as well.

The Ringer’s Haley O’Shaughnessy said that Erik Spoelstra played Whiteside keep him happy minutes in the regular season, and his playing time dwindled to 15.4 minutes per game in the first round. Whiteside’s complaints about his lack of playing time earned him a fine for “comments detrimental to the team.” Jackson listed Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk as players Miami would prefer to keep, and they are both signed to long-term contracts. But will any team take the two years and $52 million left on Whiteside’s contract?

It might seem unlikely, but Pat Riley found himself in a similar situation in the 2007-08 season. Shaquille O’Neal was disinterested and a shell of his former, dominant self. He had three years left on his contract paying him $20 million per year. Fortunately for the Heat, Steve Kerr and the Phoenix Suns were willing to trade Shawn Marion for Shaq.

That’s the situation Riley will have to find this summer: another team with another player in a less-than-ideal situation. For what it’s worth, the Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail-Blazers were interested in Whiteside during his free agency in 2016. Whiteside isn’t good enough to trade for C.J. McCollum — unless the Heat add Bam Adebayo or Josh Richardson — but Miami may be able to trade Whiteside for Evan Turner. Like Whiteside, Turner has two years left on his contract making a lot more money than someone only playing 25 minutes per game should make.

As I mentioned before, the Heat have three young pieces — Adebayo, Richardson and Justise Winslow. Miami just needs a star. Maybe it means trading Whiteside for Evan Turner (or another player on the trade block), getting a high draft pick next year — and not repeating the mistake of picking the Michael Beasley of the draft over the Russell Westbrook of the draft.