In the summer of 2016, Hassan Whiteside was one of the biggest names in free agency and the Los Angeles Lakers were one of the teams that aggressively pursued him. Unfortunately for the Lakers, they couldn’t even get a meeting with Whiteside, who re-signed with the Miami Heat on a four-year max contract.
Five years later, the Lakers are expected to pursue Whiteside once again, but under much different circumstances, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:
The Los Angeles Lakers are monitoring the developments of the Sacramento Kings’ seldom-used rim protector, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
If the defending champs strike out on landing Cleveland Cavaliers center Andre Drummond, then Whiteside would be a nice contingency plan.
Whiteside fits the mold of the type of player the Lakers are looking to add to their roster: an athletic big man that can throw down lobs on offense and block shots on the defensive end, the latter of which he’s shown he can do at an elite level. He also isn’t going to demand a max-level contract from anyone. Last offseason, Whiteside signed a one-year deal with the Sacramento Kings for the veteran’s minimum.
But throughout Whiteside’s career, the same question has followed him, and that’s whether or not he can he fully commit to a specialized role and play winning basketball. It’s the same question that had Lakers fans feeling squeamish about Dwight Howard’s return to Los Angeles last season.
Howard ultimately showed he was capable of playing a smaller role and, in some cases, not playing any role. Can Whiteside say the same? If so, the Lakers might luck into another gem in the post-trade deadline buyout market. If not, the front office will have to decide if they think Whiteside’s floor is higher than someone that has shown they can play within themselves like Damian Jones, who signed a second 10-day contract with the Lakers last week.