Hassan Whiteside: The UFA the Toronto Raptors Need to Sign This Offseason

As great as the Toronto Raptors have been, there’s a player whose contract just expired that is sure to make them even better next season.

The Toronto Raptors have had undeniable success over the past two seasons. The giant rings on their fingers are proof that’s true. In order to continue winning, General Manager Bobby Webster needs to go after a player who can change the dynamics of a ball game.

Coming off a four-year contract, the Raptors should chase the unrestricted free agent, Hassan Whiteside.

Whiteside was one of the reasons why the Portland Trail Blazers looked strong playing in the bubble. The seven-foot center gave his squad a quality 21.2 minutes per game in the playoffs but without star Damian Lillard, the Blazers didn’t have the firepower to take down the Los Angeles Lakers.

With the Raptors now officially into their offseason, their top two centers are unrestricted free agents. One can debate whether Webster should re-sign Marc Gasol and/or Serge Ibaka.

Whiteside’s last contract, given to him by the Miami Heat, was for four years and $98,419,538. That was an average salary of $24,604,885. For reference sake, Gasol made $25,595,700 this season.  For Whiteside, now 31-years-old, he won’t be able to earn a contract as lucrative again. For the right price, the Raptors should bring him in to fit Nick Nurse’s system.

Both Masai Ujiri and Nurse clearly value defensive basketball. There are few who can protect the rim like Whiteside. He makes opponents second guess stepping into the paint. It’s a trait that the coaching staff love about Gasol as well and the main reason he was acquired. This season, Whiteside had 2.9 blocks per game while Gasol averaged 0.9.

Offensively, the Big Burrito averaged 7.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.3 dimes. Whiteside had better numbers on that end of the court too. He had 15.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game. With Gasol struggling to find his stroke in these playoffs, the need for offense from the five-position is evident. While future Hall-of-Famer has been a highly valuable Raptor, his best days in the game are behind him. Now is the time to replace him with a different NBA veteran.

Whiteside has collected some accolades over his career. In 2015-16, he was named to the All-Defensive Team. The following year, he was the league’s rebound champion. Known as Count Blockula and Agent Block, he has also been a two-time block champion. As a defensive threat, combined with his ability to score makes him an ideal person to support a small backcourt.

With free agency scheduled to start on Oct. 18, the Toronto Raptors will have time for a full evaluation of their options. Hopefully, that includes bringing in the dominant center with a sweetheart deal.