The Miami Heat got a big game from Hassan Whiteside on Tuesday, as the center had a triple double in the loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves, putting up 10 blocks along with 22 points and 14 rebounds. Miami has been mentioned as a "long shot" contender to sign Kevin Durant as a free agent next summer and this comes as a Chris Andersen trade could be a target this season.
Miami has started the season 6-4 and heading into the year many felt that the team could end up as one of the top four in the eastern conference. The team has been inconsistent to start the year, but they are second in their division and Whiteside has given the team some energy up front. Whiteside showed his value on Tuesday night with 22 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocks against the Wolves to record his second career triple double.
According to the Miami Herald, Whiteside has 46 blocks through the first 10 games of the season and that is the most in Miami franchise history. Whiteside is coming into free agency next summer and his contract situation is one of the most intriguing things to watch regarding Miami and the future of the franchise. Whiteside reportedly could be looking at a contract between $12 million and $15 million per season and what Miami decides to do with the center will play a part in whether they can chase Durant or not.
Whiteside has been a key player for Miami and even with the salary cap rising, the team likely will have to decide on whether to keep Whiteside or go after a top tier free agent. It will be hard for the team to do both and that could put Miami in a tough spot. Miami has been mentioned as a potential landing spot for Durant since before the end of last season and a report in the Miami Herald from this month says the team will make a push to sign Durant next summer. According to the Miami Herald, the push is considered to be a "long shot," but the team reportedly "intends to make a long-shot bid to lure Durant."
Miami has $48 million in guaranteed contracts for next year, but that doesn't include Whiteside and it also likely would mean that Dwyane Wade would have to take a pay cut again. The team still has a lot of time to decide how to handle things and if Miami doesn't think they can actually end up getting Durant, they likely will try and sign Whiteside to a deal.
Miami already made one trade to free up some salary with Mario Chalmers going to the Memphis Grizzlies and the team also could look at making a deal with Chris Andersen. Andersen was shopped during the summer along with Chalmers and Miami would like to move his $5 million salary if they can find a deal worth making. Andersen has only played in two games this season and that is likely one reason why it has been hard to generate some interest.