Some Heat nuggets as Miami prepares for Wednesday’s game at Indiana after Tuesday’s win at Toronto:
▪ First let’s make this clear: There is no indication that the Heat has made Hassan Whiteside available in a trade. But nobody should be surprised if this happens eventually, and that leads to this question:
What could Miami get back for Whiteside if Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk continued to impress and Miami made Whiteside available?
Two veteran scouts said Miami would get back less than some might think.
“You could get a lottery pick, but a late lottery pick,” one scout said. “I could see a first rounder and a decent player — a rotational guy — but not a lottery pick and a decent player. I would be shocked if you got an all-star for him. No way.”
The scout cited numerous reasons for that, including the fact that many teams are thriving without a traditional center. “It’s like DeMarcus Cousins, a small universe of [traditional centers]. And Cousins is more talented, though his reputation is worse.”
When the Kings traded Cousins to New Orleans last February, Sacramento received guard Buddy Hield, then impending free agent Tyreke Evans (who is now with Memphis), Langston Galloway, and a 2017 first-round pick (10th overall) and second-rounder (via Philadelphia).
Also, the scout said, “the perception of Whiteside is he has toed the line to whatever extent and Miami’s culture has a lot to do with it. Maybe in another situation [it wouldn’t be as good]. His value is diminished because of his history.”
Whiteside is making $23.8 million this season and is due $24.4 million and $27 million the next two.
The other scout was down on Whiteside, believing he sulks at times and doesn’t always play at maximum energy levels. That scout said he could not see Miami getting a lottery pick for Whiteside, unless it was at the very bottom of the lottery.
Whiteside is down from a year ago in points per game (17.0 to 13.9) and rebounds per game (14.1 to 11.6), which is largely a byproduct of reduced minutes (32.6 to 25.7).
Zach Lowe, in his excellent Heat piece on ESPN.com, also cites Synergy data noting Whiteside has hit just 41.8 percent of post-up attempts, which ranks 43rd among 52 players who have attempted at least 50 such shots.
Lowe raises purely hypothetical trades of Miami flipping Whiteside for expiring contracts of DeAndre Jordan (Clippers) or DeMarcus Cousins (Pelicans), though it’s highly questionable if New Orleans would do that.
And dealing Whiteside for Jordan would give Miami less than $9 million in cap space this summer if it renounced Jordan, not enough to replace Whiteside with a high-impact player.
Here’s colleague Manny Navarro’s interesting piece on what Whiteside must do to earn more minutes, according to Erik Spoelstra.
▪ The Heat has been outscored by 24 points in 118 minutes when Whiteside and Kelly Olynyk play together. Erik Spoelstra gave a candid answer last week when I asked him if footspeed is a concern with that duo on the floor together:
“It can be,” Spoelstra said. “I’m sure opponent locker rooms are saying run them, play in transition, make them have to get back. So what? You try to deal with it? If that’s what they’re saying, let’s correct it and do it.
“They have enough speed to be able to handle it. They have enough versatility. We can be better with it. No question we can be better with it. I don’t want to just say categorically that that doesn’t work. That’s an out. I don’t want our guys to have an out. Get it done. Get the job done.”
When I asked a scout about this, he said: “They are slow. Whiteside can protect the paint. Can Olynyk get to stretch fours — Can he guard Rudy Gay as a stretch four? Kristaps Porzingis has the same problem. Defensively, it would be a challenge. Any team that stretches the floor, you could have an issue with those guys on the floor.I would run pick and rolls all day against those two if they had a stretch four” on the court.
▪ Per Elias, Miami has won its last five games all by seven or fewer points, matching the longest such streak in franchise history. The Heat won five consecutive games, all by seven or fewer points, two other times in team history: once in April 2001 and once in February/March 2006.
▪ New Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr., on a two-way contract, played well filling in for Tyler Johnson/Dion Waiters on Tuesday (eight points, five rebounds, two blocks in 28 minutes).
With only about 14 days left on Jones’ two-way contract, Miami eventually must decide whether to convert that two-way deal into a full contract, which would require creating a roster space. (Miami has held onto A.J. Hammons partly in case his salary is needed in a trade, but he appears to have no future here.)
Cody Tobbert, head coach of the Northern Arizona Suns (Jones’ former D-League team), told me Jones “has got a chance. Talent and potential are there. He’s a good kid. He’s maturing every day. Elite athlete who could be an elite defender. Straight line driver who shoots better than most think.”
Here’s my Wednesday post with information on 10 UM football players expected to enroll this week.
And please check back later for part 5 of my 5-part series on Derek Jeter’s business plan and secret documents... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz