One NBA star who has faltered the past years is Hassan Whiteside of the Miami Heat. Once seen as a promising cager who would likely be due a max contract at some point, things just went spiral for the 7-footer who rose to stardom in South Beach. Entering the final year of his contract, the 30-year-old big man is reportedly trying to whip himself up to shape – and for good reason. 

Although it has yet to be made official, pundits believe that Whiteside will be opting in with the Heat next season. But as mentioned in a previous post, that is no assurance that the 2017 NBA rebounding leader will be staying in South Beach. The belief is that he (possibly together with Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters or James Johnson) will eventually be traded to interested teams. Opting in and a change of scenery could work for Whiteside although he needs to prove he deserves being paid such an enormous amount.

If the recent update from The Athletic is accurate, it looks like the native of Gastonia, North Carolina got a wake-up call. Whiteside is reportedly putting in plenty of work for next NBA season as he tries to resurrect his basketball career. He has suffered several injuries and also found himself embroiled in several off-court controversies. That includes gripes against playing time against Heat coach Erik Spoelstra – clearly a red flag and indication that he will be moving out soon.

Opting in the final year of his contract will be critical. While he could easily earn that $27 million (either in  Miami or elsewhere), it is all about looking forward. Despite the fact he has shown that he can be a reliable rebounder and good rim protector, he needs to keep himself in shape and aligned with the system of whichever team he plays for next NBA season.

Being a 7-footer, there is no doubt teams will try and negotiate a pact with Whiteside next season. But as far as the money to be offered to him, it may not be as much as that four-year $98 million contract until he proves that he has gotten his act together. He has shown he can be a great defensive stopper for teams in need of someone in the middle. Working out this summer is a great start although he still needs to show the improvements in his game compared to last NBA season. 

Hassan Whiteside Hassan Whiteside, 26, is evolving into one of the NBA's best defensive standouts. Photo: Getty