Another summer has quickly turned into yet another disastrous off-season as the Dallas Mavericks got body-slammed mere hours after the NBA free agency doors opened.
With all signs pointing toward Hassan Whiteside leaving Miami and signing a free agent contract with the Mavs, the 7-foot center did an about-face and decided he will sign a four-year, $98 million contract to remain with the Heat.
It was a heartbreaking moment, to say the least, for the Mavs, who continued a mysterious trend of having their top free-agent hopefuls sign elsewhere.
I’ve played on eight teams since college – from Reno to Sioux Falls to Sichuan, China. I am not ready for there to be a ninth. I have decided to re-sign with Miami.
Hassan Whiteside, on The Players’ Tribune website
The Mavs met with Whiteside in New York shortly after midnight Eastern time when the free agency period began. The Mavs’ contingent walked away feeling confident that their sales pitch would be enough to land a commitment to sign from Whiteside.
But before the sun barely rose in Dallas, Whiteside went on social media and announced his decision to return to the Heat, where he played the last two seasons.He formally announced his decision on The Players’ Tribune website.
Whiteside is expected to officially sign his contract with Miami when the NBA moratorium is lifted on July 7. And unless he reneges on his verbal agreement to the Heat – as Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan did to the Mavs last summer – he will be playing next season and beyond in Miami.
The loss of Whiteside was a hard body-check for the Mavs, who had hoped to use Whiteside to shore up their front line. His loss left the Mavs scrambling to try and secure another free agent center – possibly Dwight Howard, Al Horford, Al Jefferson or Bismack Biyombo.
Besides Whiteside, the Mavs also lost out on small forward Nicolas Batum, who boasted about scheduling a flight to Dallas to meet with the Mavs on Friday. Batum, however, agreed to re-sign with the Charlotte Hornets for $120 million over five years and had to cancel that trip to Dallas.
The Mavs still have a Friday afternoon meeting scheduled with Memphis Grizzlies free agent point guard Mike Conley. But that meeting has lost a tremendous amount of luster now that Whiteside has agreed to return to the Heat – not to mention Batum returning to the Hornets.
Meanwhile, Chandler Parsons was offered a four-year, $94.8 million maxed-out contract by the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, and is slated to meet today with the Grizzlies. Parsons opted out of the last year of his contract with the Mavs.
Last year the Mavs wound up with eggs splattered on their face when Jordan verbally agreed to sign a free agent contract with Dallas. But Jordan apparently got cold feet and eventually stopped returning telephone calls and text messages from owner Mark Cuban, and instead decided to sign a free agent contract to remain with the Clippers, much to the chagrin of the Mavs.
Whiteside averaged 14.2 points and 11.8 rebounds this past season, and also led the league in blocks with 3.7 per game. He clogged up the lane and proved to be the type of defensive instigator the Mavs sorely need.
The addition of Whiteside would have helped the Mavs tremendously with the defensive and rebounding deficiencies which plagued them last season. Whiteside plays defense the way Deion Sanders used to totally blanket one side of the field and make opponents not even think about throwing the ball in his direction.
Whiteside, 27, is so uncanny as a defender that he has opponents looking over their shoulders whenever they dare to drive to the basket. That’s how much respect he garners on the defensive end of the floor.
Offensively, Whiteside shot 60.6 percent from the field and 65 percent from the free throw line last season. And he has a strong desire to be more involved in the offense.
About the only downside to securing Whiteside is no one knows how he’ll react to the sudden huge change in his bank account.
Last year Whiteside made just $990,000 – paltry by NBA standards. Next season he’ll make approximately $23 million, which will place him in an entirely new tax bracket and test his ability to remain grounded.
But that’s now a problem the Heat will have to deal with.
During the 2010-’11 season, Whiteside appeared in just one game – for two minutes – as a rookie with the Sacramento Kings.
The next season he played just 18 games for the Kings.
After that, Whiteside bounced around from the National Basketball Development League to several leagues overseas before finally hitching up with the Heat in 2014.
In 48 games with the Heat during the 2014-’15 season, Whiteside averaged 11.8 points, 10 rebounds and 2.6 bocks while shooting a lofty 62.8 percent from the field. Earlier this season he became the fastest Heat player to record 300 blocks in his career – a feat he accomplished after just 94 games with Miami.
Born in Gastonia, North Carolina, Whiteside played college basketball at Marshall. As a freshman he finished with 182 blocked shots, breaking the national record of 177 set by Brigham Young’s Shawn Bradley, who later played for the Mavs.
Whiteside declared for the NBA Draft after just one season at Marshall and was drafted No, 33 overall by the Kings. He eventually inked a four-year, $3.8 million contract with the Kings, but only $1.76 million and the first two years were guaranteed.
Now, Whiteside can live in the lap of luxury after the huge offer he received from the Heat. The Mavs, meanwhile, must pick up the pieces and regroup and hope this free agent offseason won’t become a total wash.
Indeed, this has turned into Black Friday for the Mavs.