The Sacramento Kings have signed center Hassan Whiteside to a one-year $2.3 million veteran minimum deal for the 2020-21 season. The 7-foot, 265-pound bigman will fill the whole left by Alex Len, who bolted for the Toronto Raptors earlier in the week.
Whiteside, 31, was originally selected by Sacramento back in 2010 with the 33rd overall pick in the NBA Draft. He held the dubious label as the team’s other center selected that year as All-Star DeMarcus Cousins was the team’s choice with the 5th pick.
The Marshall standout played in just 19 games for the Kings over two seasons before being cut. He then spent two years overseas playing in Lebanon and China before making his way back to the D-League in 2014.
Shortly thereafter, the Miami Heat called Hassan up to the parent team and he never left. In 2016, he signed a lucrative deal worth $98 million over the next four years.
Over his 8-year NBA career, Hassan established himself as one of the leagues best per-minute rebounder and shot-blocker. He has career averages of 13.7 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks in just over 26 minutes a game.
Last season with the Portland Trail Blazers, he averaged 15.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks.
So, what happened? How can such a defensive stud on paper end up with a vet minimum contract in Sacramento?
While talented, Whiteside lacks the consistent mental and physical toughness to dominate the NBA. He suffers from long stretches in a game where he is completely disengaged. Smart opponents can get in his head and throw him off. His inability to defend or shoot outside the paint does not equate to success in today’s NBA style of play. He is a center of the 1990s stuck in 2020.
The Kings likely only want him around for insurance, as they hope to develop third year bigman Marvin Bagley at the 5 and continue to evaluate Richaun Holmes, Hassan will likely be used sparingly and only when the opponent presents large front lines like the Los Angela’s Lakers.
Fans will wonder why general manager Monte McNair would even consider bringing the enigma that is Hassan Whiteside back to Sacramento, but if you look at the numbers, it kind of makes sense. Kind of.