Miami Heat Struggling to Trade Hassan Whiteside and Tyler Johnson

Miami is looking to trade center Hassan Whiteside and sixth-man guard Tyler Johnson. According to a report from the Miami Herald, the Heat has yet to find any takers for either player, both of whom carry lucrative contracts for the next two years.

Johnson has a player option in 2019, but will almost certainly not opt of his contract that will pay him over $19 million in each of the next two seasons.

As a restricted free agent in 2016, Johnson signed a four-year, $50 million offer sheet from the Brooklyn Nets, before the Heat matched the deal to keep the guard in Miami. He has spent his entire four-year career with the Heat. Johnson’s contract is back-loaded—as the first two years of the contract has paid him roughly $11.5 million, whereas the next two years he will collect close to $38.5 million. This makes Johnson, who averaged 11.7 points per game last season, an unattractive trade asset.

The only Heat player who will earn more money than Johnson next season is Whiteside, who is signed through 2020. Whiteside, set to make $24.5 million in 2018-19, appeared in just 54 games last regular season, but posted impressive per-game averages of 14 points and 11.4 rebounds in 25.3 minutes. However, he was a no-show in the Heat’s short-lived five-game playoff run, averaging just 5.2 points and 6 rebounds as he was reduced to 15 minutes per contest.

Miami has yet to find a trade market for Hassan Whiteside and Tyler Johnson.  — by Wilfredo Lee/AP
Miami has yet to find a trade market for Hassan Whiteside and Tyler Johnson.  — by Wilfredo Lee/AP

It’s no secret Whiteside is frustrated in Miami. His willingness to get traded lowers Miami’s leverage—which is already low given his hefty contract for the next two years—in a potential deal.

Miami wants to rid itself of Johnson and Whiteside and is seeking expiring contracts in a deal, according to the Miami Herald. If they are to move Johnson and Whiteside, they could become buyers in the 2019 free agency market—the only method of success Pat Riley has achieved as Heat team president.

More than likely though, teams will resist trading for Johnson and/or Whiteside, both of whom are undeniably overpaid. This means the Heat won’t be active in free agency until the summer of 2020, when both players’ deals are off the books.