NBA Trade Rumors: Hassan Whiteside on the block? A look at Heat big man's value

They are 11-28, and have lost eight of nine. Their best players are Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside, who would not be the best players on most teams around the league. Pat Riley has outright admitted they are rebuilding, which Riley has always been loathe to do.

However, when Riley does rebuild, he goes all the way. Please review the 2008 Heat roster.

So when the Heat decide to tear it down and rebuild and go all the way again, unlike that 2008 team, which had Dwyane Wade so they could reload and get back on track in 2009, this team does not have Wade. And so, even the really good players are on the table. Goran Dragic has been in trade rumors for the past few weeks, and now, on the Lowe Post Podcast on ESPN, Zach Lowe indicated that the Heat are ready to talk about dealing Whiteside. Transcript via 247 Sports:
"Up and down the roster, literally every player," said Lowe towards the end of his latest podcast. "Literally no one is untouchable, not even Hassan Whiteside, by a long shot."
Some thoughts:
  • This season, the Heat give up 3.8 points more per 100 possessions with Whiteside on the floor versus off. Last year it was worse early on before a late push brought it to nearly even, with the Heat 0.3 points per 100 possessions worse when Whiteside played. In 2015-16, the Heat were 2.9 points worse defensively with Whiteside on the court. Now, this does not make Whiteside a bad defender. His shot-blocking is important and helps the defense, as does his rebounding. However, it does take some shine off his raw stats, on account of how often he can go chasing the big play instead of playing sound, positional defense.
  • Whiteside's offensive numbers, however, are very good. The Heat offense is 8.4 points better with him on the court. He's a pick and roll beast who can finish the lob, catch and lay it up, score in the post, and shoots 55 percent from the field. He's a huge positive on that end.
  • There were maturity issues with Whiteside as recently as last season, but eventually he started to turn it around and earned the trust of Wade and the other veterans on the team. He signed a max contract last summer, so motivation is a small concern, but it hasn't led to him underperforming this year, when he's averaging a career high in points and rebounds, albeit in more minutes. However, he still has issues with night-to-night consistency as a go-to option, even with Miami's roster.
  • Miami should definitely deal Whiteside. There's nothing worth salvaging on this roster outside of the injured Justise Winslow and Tyler Johnson. Everything else should be cleared in a tanking effort.
  • If they do decide to get active with trading Whiteside, the Heat should look at teams like New York, Chicago, Dallas (who pursued Whiteside in free agency), Boston and New Orleans. Those teams are low on assets outside of Boston, but have real needs for Whiteside's athleticism and might be able to get quality long-term, future assets in exchange for a big upgrade now.
  • Boston is particularly interesting given that he solves its rim protection issues and with such a great culture, you'd feel good about him fitting in. He's also 27, putting him roughly in line with the other key players on that team. He complements Al Horford well and would be devastating in pick and rolls with Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley.
We'll see just how far the Heat want to go with this rebuild, but moving Whiteside would be a smart move for their cap and to get back the kind of assets they need to kickstart it now, versus what Whiteside can provide over the course of his contract as he gets older and the Heat get younger.

Hassan Whiteside could be available in trade talks, reportedly. USATSI

NBA Trade Rumors: Lakers expressed interest in Nerlens Noel

It’s hardly a secret that the Philadelphia 76ers have a logjam in the frontcourt. Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor figure to be traded sooner rather than later with Joel Embiid emerging as the clear franchise-changing player among the trio of big men drafted by Sam Hinkie. Noel is most likely to be dealt because he offers the most potential value as a trade chip. According to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, the Los Angeles Lakers are one of the teams who has expressed interest in trading for the third-year player out of Kentucky.

A trade of Noel to the Lakers appears unlikely at first glance. LA already owes the SIxers their 2017 first-round pick unless it lands in the top three. At 15-27, the Lakers are probably not quite bad enough this year to keep their pick. Their future assets are limited in terms of tradeable draft picks, and management is not going to be willing to part with Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell, or Brandon Ingram. For now, the Lakers can only be counted among the casually interested when it comes to Nerlens Noel.

Noel has had a rocky 2016-17 season so far for the Sixers. A knee injury limited him early on, and minutes have been hard to come by as Philadelphia has a surplus of big men. Noel has played in 10 games this year and is averaging only 14 minutes per game. While actually able to find the court, he has been productive, averaging 7.3 points and 1.8 rebounds while shooting close to .600 from the field. Noel’s free throw shooting has also improved, and he appears to mesh well with Embiid.

It has not been easy for Noel to hide his displeasure over the situation, and he spoke on Adrian Wojnarowski’s podcast earlier this week. Noel has had to adjust to the new management team in Philly, especially after being told by Hinkie that he would not be traded.

“He (Hinkie) said he’d never trade me. It’s a business regardless, but a guy who really values you to a high standard. And then overnight, your life changes and you’re on the block and really uncertain about things and it changes your mindset on how you’re gonna approach things,” Noel said.

NBA trade rumors: Lakers have no plans to trade young core that has scouts raving

There is a different vibe around the Lakers these days, and it’s not just because they’ve managed to win three of their past five games, with all three of those wins coming by at least 14 points. After all, the Lakers are just 15-27, and while that puts them only three games out for the West’s final playoff spot, the postseason is very much a longshot.

That doesn’t much matter. Here’s what one Western Conference scout said about the state of the Lakers: “If you made a list of the 20 best players who are 22 or under, I think you’d have to have all three of the Lakers’ young guys on there. They’re three of the best young guys in the league. There’s really not a lot of teams can say that, and I think a lot of mediocre teams would like to swap rosters with the Lakers right now.”

The three young guys, of course, are 19-year-old Brandon Ingram, 20-year-old D’Angelo Russell and 22-year-old Julius Randle, all of whom appear to have their sea legs after a wobbly start this season. Ingram, Randle and Russell are in the top 16 in minutes among 22-and-under players, the only such trio from one team other than Zach LaVine, Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns from Minnesota.

Randle has been the most consistent of the three, averaging 13.7 points and 8.7 rebounds, while seeing big improvements in his passing (3.8 assists per game) and shooting (49.2 percent, up from 42.9 percent last year). Randle is taking fewer midrange jumpers this year, but his percentages have bumped up on shots from 10 feet out to the arc, showing promise that he eventually could stretch into a 3-point shooter. 

Russell has seen his shot improve and regress in fits and starts, in part because of a knee injury that kept him out from late November into mid-December. But his confidence and ability to lead the team has taken hold in L.A., after a year of suffering from a lack of development under coach Byron Scott and in the shadow of retiring Kobe Bryant. It’s only six games, but since the New Year, Russell has averaged 18.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists.

Most encouraging, though, has been the way that Ingram has begun to break through, scoring in double digits in each of his past four games and shooting 50 percent or better from the field in five straight. Ingram is loaded with talent, and sometimes displays so much versatility that he doesn’t know on which area of his game he should focus.

But, the scout said, “He is probably going to be the best of the three. When you look at his physical assets and what he is capable of just from a raw potential perspective, the sky is the limit. He has to be developed; that’s obvious. He looks to me like he is learning to assert himself more out on the floor. He’s got to figure out where he fits between Randle and Russell. But they’re so young, there will be plenty of time to make that smoother.”

Indeed, it looks like there will be a good deal of time. That’s because the Lakers are not moving any of the three, even as we enter the silly season of NBA trade discussions. According to league sources, the Lakers have not included any of the three into trade discussions, and do not figure to change that. They’re unlikely to consider moves involving their two other young role players, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr., who figure to be key parts of the rotation in the near future.

The Lakers have inserted themselves on trade talks this season and will continue to do so. They had talks with Atlanta about Paul Millsap and expressed interest in Nerlens Noel, if the Sixers decide to go ahead with a deal for him. But the best asset the Lakers can put forth is a future draft pick, probably not until 2021 depending on how the lottery plays out this May. That’s going to limit their activity on the market, and there is a chance they could even be a seller with a veteran such as Luol Deng.

The draft pick issue has become a fascinating one. The Lakers owe the 76ers their 2017 selection unless it lands in the top three via lottery. That means they either will have another terrific young prospect, from a loaded draft — albeit one short on centers, the Lakers' biggest need — or nothing. If the Lakers keep the pick, though, they have to give the Sixers their 2018 selection with no protections at all. The value of that pick hinges on how quickly this core can start winning.

The team has long sought a big-time name to lure to L.A. and struck out on LaMarcus Aldridge, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard in free agency. But the buzzword now is patience. The Lakers' ability to pursue free agents in the last few years was hindered by the presence of Bryant because potential signees knew that Bryant’s injury-addled, end-of-career seasons were going to be a struggle.

Bryant’s gone now, so the hope is that free agents can look afresh at the Lakers now with a rebuilt core of young players and Walton, who also is making his mark as a coach well-liked by players and respected despite his own youth (36). That will be the approach going forward.

It might not come immediately, but the Lakers have pulled themselves off the immediate-gratification carousel. They’re opting for patience. They’ve got three young players — three of the best young talents in the league — worthy of it.

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