With starting center Jusuf Nurkic out due to his leg injury, the Portland Trail Blazers acquired Hassan Whiteside from the Miami Heat last offseason to hold down the middle. Whiteside’s season in Portland looked good numbers-wise — 15.5 points, 13.5 rebounds (his second most for a season) and 2.9 blocks per game (the league high this year) — but his tangible on-the-court impact lacked at times. This duality of Whiteside as a player makes him one of this year’s top “boom-or-bust” free agents, according to Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report:
He can be a value at the right price—he ranked 12th among centers in ESPN’s real plus-minus—and his reputation would be considerably different if he’s on a bargain deal.
But there’s also a chance his counting categories will swell his salary past the point that his game can support. At 31 years old, he is who he is. He can make things happen above the rim, but he’s not a great screen-setter, he can get jumpy around the basket on defense, and he doesn’t have the quickness to defend in space. If anyone breaks the bank for him, they’ll live to regret it, just like the Heat did.
Whiteside just finished the fourth and final year of the four-year, $98 million contract he signed with the Heat in the 2016 offseason. He is averaging 13.7 points and 11.7 rebounds per game for his career.
Eric Griffith here at Blazer’s Edge made the case in February that Portland should pursue re-signing Whiteside, despite the risks.