In 72 games last season, Hassan Whiteside averaged 12.3 points, 11.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks for the Miami Heat.
He’s got a new scenery. A second round pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Whiteside was part of part of a four-team trade with the Heat, Philaelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Clippers that sent Jimmy Butler from Philadelphia to Miami, Josh Richardson from Miami to Philadelphia and a future first round draft pick goes from Miami to the Clippers.
It is the belief that Whiteside, 30 will be able to hold down the big man role for the Blazers while big man Jusuf Nurkic finds a way to return from his March injury.
For those needing a refresher: Nurkic sustained season-ending compound fractures to his left tibia and fibula last season in a game against the Brooklyn Nets.
While attempting to tip in a teammate’s missed shot, Nurkic came down awkwardly in traffic, causing his leg to bend between the knee and ankle. The Blazers big man finished that game with 32 points, 16 rebounds, five assists, four blocks and two steals.
“I think they are going to get the most use out of Hassan Whiteside,” Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes told me on the Scoop B Radio Podcast.
“There’s not all the nightlife that Miami has to offer.”
Haynes says there’s a simple solution for Whiteside: “Focus and get it together in Portland,” he said.
Haynes isn’t the only person that has high hopes for Whiteside.
Insert Damian Lillard.
Lillard believes that Hassan Whiteside may be the finishing touch to a potent roster that also added veteran and NBA Champion, Pau Gasol to their explosive team. “He matches up with my age and CJ’s,” Lillard told me.
“So in a contract year, I think in order to make it, we’ll have a great season for him.
“I think he’s dealt with some injuries, has had a few bumps in the road the past years in Miami.”
Hassan Whiteside will make roughly $27 million in the final season of four-year contract.
The Portland Trail Blazers begin training camp next week with the NBA’s preseason and regular season beginning next month.
“Portland is legit,” Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes tells me.
The Portland Trail Blazers had a Cinderella season last year.
Led by Lillard’s 25.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 6.9 assists and C.J. McCollum’s 17.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists, Terry Stott’s Blazers finished the regular season with a 53-29 record and a third seed in the NBA Playoffs.
Worth noting: Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum alone combined for an average of 46.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 9.9 assists during the regular season while turning the ball over only 4.2 total times per game.
The Blazers lost to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA’s Western Conference Finals. They’ll get a fresh start in a competitive NBA Western Conference where many have pegged the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers as a favorite to compete in the NBA Finals.
“I like Portland in the Finals,” Barkley told me last season.
NBA Hall of Famer, Gary Payton was just as vocal about Damian Lillard:”He’s got that swagger,” he told NBA scribe, Landon Buford.
“And that dog in him, but he is going to keep going at people.”