There were reports about a week ago that the Wolves were working out Hassan Whiteside for one of their final two roster spots. They’ve also been linked to trying to bring back Anthony Tolliver or reaching out toward veteran Mehmet Okur to bring in some much needed depth to the interior.
My initial thoughts are I really want Tolliver back. I loved the presence he provided for the team both on and off the court last season and think his talents, skill set and knowledge of the game greatly benefit the team. He can guard multiple positions, is a threat to knock down outside shots, and is more than willing to give up his body.
He’s the cliché that every coach wants in their reserve guys.
But Tolliver is looking for some money right now, and you can’t really blame him. The Wolves are capped out and exception-free after their flurry of moves this offseason to retool the players surrounding a promising core. The best they can offer Tolliver is the veteran’s minimum. For a player with his experience (four seasons), that’s a contract for roughly $915,000. That may seem like a good enough chunk of change to you and me, but he may be trying to fit into a room or mini mid-level exception somewhere to more than double that amount.
The Wolves simply can’t offer him the money he desires unless they make a trade to free up some cap room. The Wolves are about $2.3 million over the cap right now. Unless they trade Luke Ridnour ($4 million this season) or J.J. Barea ($4.4 million) for a draft pick or non-guaranteed deal, they can’t create the room to sign Tolliver. And really, trading one of those guys to bring in room for AT would be a nonsensical move.
Unless the market for Tolliver dries completely up and he decides to come back to the Wolves for the vet’s minimum, the Wolves will have to move their full attention to Whiteside and Okur. Okur is reportedly (Insider) looking for money that exceeds the veteran’s minimum ($1.3 million for his 10-year service), which means the Wolves are basically out with bringing him in too.
Honestly, I’m fine with that because while Okur may be a decent player still, he’s not the type of guy the Wolves need on their roster. He hasn’t been a decent rebounder in three years and he can’t defend the way the Wolves would need him to.
That leaves us with Hassan Whiteside, who may actually be interested in playing for the minimum salary (roughly $850,000 for his two years of experience).
Whiteside is… well… interesting, to say the least.
He had his lone collegiate season at Marshall when he was 20 years old, so he’s always been a bit older than his class. But he’s still only 23 years old right now and never has really had much of a chance to show whether or not he belongs in the NBA. Of course, not getting minutes with the Sacramento Kings in two years might give you an opinion that he doesn’t belong.
Here’s the thing about Whiteside: we really know very little about what he can do as a player.
I covered him briefly during his rookie season in Sacramento, and I found him to be a hilarious kid. He wowed everybody at Media Day in 2010 when he showed up with about “25 pounds of muscle” added to his frame. But that was really the only time we saw much of him. We spent part of his rookie year in the D-League and ended up tearing his patellar tendon in his left knee after playing just two minutes in his rookie season.
Last season, Whiteside played 109 total minutes in 18 games, and the only real noticeable statistic you walk away with from his numbers is he had a block percentage of 10.0%. For comparison’s sake, Serge Ibaka led the league with 9.8% (Whiteside didn’t play enough to qualify). He also blocked 5.3 shots per game in his season at Marshall.
Whiteside is an exceptional athlete for his size and has a 7’7″ wingspan. But his attention and focus are often questioned. His maturity (or perceived lack thereof) and rumors of having Attention Deficit Disorder caused him to drop to the second round in the 2010 NBA Draft when he was projected often as a lottery pick. Whiteside denied that he had the disorder or had ever taken medication from it, even though his agent talked about him taking medication for it and needing to figure out how to deal with it.
Normally in a post like this, I would try to break down the Synergy clips and stats we’ve seen with Whiteside in his brief NBA career, but there really isn’t much to dissect. He’s a project, and I’m not sure exactly how much I want a project on this Wolves team. Sure, Bill Bayno and Jack Sikma, along with David Adelman, could probably do wonders for developing Whiteside.
But if the Wolves are indeed supposed to be a playoff team, will they have time to properly work with Whiteside throughout the season? Is it fair for the Wolves to have a project like that when they’re going for much bigger goals? Is it fair to Whiteside if he signs with the team for a year and they don’t have the time to dedicate to molding him into a productive player?
Or could he provide much-needed depth later on in the season and possibly a spark with his athleticism at times?
(By the way, Whiteside has extremely loose ties to Minnesota. His dad, Hasson Arbubakrr, played one year for the Minnesota Vikings as a defensive end.)
Because there is still a roster spot open even if they sign Whiteside and the money is so minimal for the team in the short and long term, I actually do hope the Wolves end up finding a way to bring him aboard. Looking at what the Wolves did with Pekovic (who seemed completely lost after his first season here) and the depth chart’s lack of size, it’s one of those “what the heck” kind of moves.
If they could bring on Whiteside and Tolliver to round out the 15-man roster, that would be even better.