PHILADELPHIA — It’s too early to tell how good the new-look Detroit Pistons will be after acquiring five-time All-Star Blake Griffin in a trade earlier this week. But Heat center Hassan Whiteside is happy for Griffin.
“I’m glad he’s with a team that wants him,” Whiteside said, with the Heat traveling to Detroit to face the Pistons on Saturday to close out a four-game trip.
Whiteside, who has been mentioned in trade rumors over the past few weeks with the Feb. 8 trade deadline looming, and Griffin are both represented by Excel Sports Management.
“I think it shocked a lot of people,” Whiteside said of the trade. “Me and Blake are with the same agency. I believe him when he says he was actually shocked about it. It surprised a lot of people. It’s good he’s with a team that he feels like he can move on with. Even Avery Bradley and them guys going to the Clippers. The thing about trades is somebody has to want you. They felt like it was even.”
It’s been an up-and-down season for Whiteside. He’s looked like the most dominant player on the court at times, but has also been a non-factor in some fourth quarters with Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk playing late-game minutes at center.
Whiteside entered Friday averaging 14.4 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks.
“I try to do what’s best for the team,” Whiteside said. “A lot of the times when I don’t get that many shots it could be the [other team’s] scheme. They could be packing the paint. Then I’m trying to get the win. Some games, guys are going better than others. There’s sometimes I was trying to force it to Wayne [Ellington] because he was knocking down a lot of shots and I was just trying to keep it going.”
Are there times when Whiteside will demand the ball if he feels like he has a favorable matchup?
“I mean, I always feel I’ve got a good matchup,” Whiteside said. “I always go to Spo and tell them guys to throw it down there. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. I have no control over that.”
With the offseason additions of Adebayo and Olynyk, Whiteside’s playing time and shot attempts have taken a dip. He’s averaging 10.6 shot attempts per game, two fewer than last season; and 25.9 minutes of playing time per game, 6.7 minutes less than last season.
“It can be tough, but we kind of went through similarities the second half of last season, when we were 30-11,” Whiteside said of having to adjust to a new role. “That team was winning. We definitely added people in the frontcourt. I think that’s where the minutes are really tough at the big man position.”