The Dallas Mavericks are often viewed as the big losers of almost every free agency period for the last five years. Mark Cuban is sick of it, and hopes he can end that perception by signing Hassan Whiteside, who is looking after a max contract.
A number of sources are suggesting Whiteside is giving the Mavericks the chance to meet with him first among teams not named the Miami Heat (he has already sat down with Pat Riley), but isn’t interested in listening to anything that’s not a max offer. The Heat have reportedly offered him less than the max, which makes sense considering the limitations in Whiteside’s game, and their other interests: They want to sign Kevin Durant, and they need to re-sign Dwyane Wade, who is playing his usual offseason antics of making it seem like he’s interested in leaving so he’ll get more money.
And the Mavericks aren’t the only team interested in Whiteside. The Los Angeles Lakers, with plenty of cap space and young talent, will be going after the center as well, and it won’t be surprising if they plan to offer him the max too. The New York Knicks and Portland Trail Blazers are also in the picture, but right now, they’re probably on the backburner for Whiteside, unless his meeting with Dallas and maybe the Lakers don’t go as well as he’d hoped.
A 27 year old who played a lot of D-League basketball since being drafted in the second round of the 2010 draft, Whiteside has broken out as a fantastic rim protector and double double machine for the Heat since being called up from the Sioux Falls Skyforce in December 2014. Since becoming a starter, and then something of a sixth man for the Heat, Whiteside has averaged 13.3 points, 11.1 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game in just 27 minutes a night. He led the NBA in rejections last season with 3.7 a night, and his per minute numbers are impressive, sitting at 17.6 points and 14.7 rebounds per game per 36 minutes, while shooting 60.6% from the field.
But Whiteside isn’t some ideal big man. He has no range, and big men with good low post moves can work well on him, like Al Jefferson in the playoff series. However, in a league that’s mostly interested in big men who can defend guards and stretch the floor while doing a good job of rebounding and protecting the rim, Whiteside presents an interesting test case of what a good, but limited big man is worth in free agency. Still the max, or something less?