The Houston Rockets are a mess, so Dwight Howard is expendable. Hassan Whiteside will be an unrestricted free agent, so the Miami Heat could lose their breakout star and receive nothing in return.
Why not make a trade?
According to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, the franchises are discussing a Howard-for-Whiteside deal.
Dwight Howard could be moved by Thursday's trade deadline. Miami is talking with Houston about a deal that would include Hassan Whiteside.
— Frank Isola (@TheFrankIsola) February 15, 2016
Howard certainly isn’t the contributor he once was, but Miami wouldn’t need the veteran to be a star. More importantly, per HoopsHype, Howard has a player option for 2016-17. At the very least, the Heat at least have a chance to retain him for next season.
Whiteside, on the other hand, seems poised to chase the money.
Considering his rise from D-Leaguer to the NBA’s top shot-blocker, it would be silly to blame Whiteside for that. This season, he’s earning less than $1 million as the team’s 12th-highest-paid player.
Whether it’s Miami or a different franchise, someone will offer Whiteside a maximum contract worth approximately $90 million over four years. Since the Heat don’t have his Bird Rights, they cannot offer an additional year or more money to Whiteside.
Houston — especially if the club rids itself of Ty Lawson’s contract — would have ample space to extend that max deal to Whiteside after trading Howard. That wouldn’t be the case during free agency if Howard exercised his player option despite the still-rising salary cap.
Since both teams are competing for the postseason as currently assembled, a trade isn’t a necessity. But Miami probably won’t pay Whiteside, so watching him leave for nothing isn’t exactly ideal.
If the Rockets agree to trading Howard, though, the Heat shouldn’t have second thoughts.