Both Hassan Whiteside and the Miami Heat are better off forgoing the long-term contract everyone expects the enigmatic swat machine to sign this summer in favor of a short-term deal bridging the talented seven-footer to 2017 Free Agency.
This not only aids the Heat in their desire for cap flexibility in what will be a stellar market that includes Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, and more, but it helps Hassan maximize what will likely end up being his one mammoth NBA contract. I’ve been advising for this since December.
As salary-cap guru Albert Nahmad (@AlbertRandom1) of Heat Hoops intricately lays out, if Whiteside signs a max contract this summer in Miami it’d start at $21.6 million (projected $92 million cap), allowing for the Heat to offer as much as $96.1 million over four years.
However, with the salary cap projected to rise to an astronomical $107 million in 2017, Nahmad notes Miami could offer him a significantly fatter contract next summer — a five-year deal worth an estimated $145 million, while also attaining his full Bird Rights.
Some think such a scenario is implausible because an injury or poor production could prevent Whiteside from sniffing that $145-million deal. I think the risk is overstated. How often do we see career-derailing injuries in 2016? Second, he can mitigate the risk with what can essentially amount to a $44 million insurance policy.
Consider the following: Hassan signs a max deal in July for $44 million but only two years in length, with the ability to opt out next summer. So he will makes $21.6 million next year and, if all goes well, opt out and sign a $145-million deal for five years next summer.
This equates to a whopping $167 million over six years. And if he were to go blind during the season, effectively terminating his career, he’d still walk away from the game with $44 million.
What’s more attractive: $167 million over six years with a $44-million insurance policy or $96 million over the next four? Of course the former is two years longer but it represents a $71-million difference in potential guaranteed dollars.
For the Heat, Hassan is pricier in the long run but it gives them another year of grooming while dangling a $145-million carrot, in addition to providing more flexibility for what could end up being the best free-agent crop in NBA history.
Waiting is better, for both Whiteside and the Heat.