The deal makes sense for both sides, as it alleviates any lingering cap-clearing issues involved in the snagged Jimmy Butler trade -- per Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel -- and provides the Heat with two serviceable forwards. It also provides the Blazers with a starting-caliber center while they wait for Jusuf Nurkic to return from the leg injury that he suffered during the postseason. Center Enes Kanter, who filled in for Nurkic after his injury, is an unrestricted free agent.
Whiteside averaged 12.3 points and a team-best 11.3 rebounds in 23 minutes of action per game for the Heat last season.
The trio of Whiteside, Leonard and Harkless will all be unrestricted free agents next summer, so neither teams made any sort of long-term commitments in the deal.
Here are the trade grades for each team.
After making an impressive run to the Western Conference finals this past season, the Portland Trail Blazers are trying to ensure that they don't take a step backward next season in a suddenly-open Western Conference.
The addition of Whiteside provides the Blazers with some center insurance while they wait for Nurkic to fully recover from his leg injury. Whiteside, who is capable of providing a team with starting center-caliber production, can start in Nurkic's absence, and upon his return he can slide to a reserve role in order to bolster the bench. On paper, a center rotation of Nurkic and Whiteside is pretty formidable. Plus, Whiteside will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, so if things don't work out the Blazers can cut ties and not have to worry about long-term salary cap implications.
While Harkless and Leonard will both be missed, both are also pretty easily replaceable rotation players. Overall, the move to acquire Whiteside was a pretty low risk one with a high potential upside. Portland trade grade: B
For the Heat, this trade is all about addition by subtraction. Whiteside was a constant malcontent in Miami, and the team could potentially benefit just from having him out of the locker room. Whiteside wasn't part of Miami's future, so getting some return for him is a positive. Bam Adebayo can slide into the starting center spot for the Heat, and the team will be able to move forward with the third-year big man.
Plus, the trade has a couple of other benefits for Miami. First, the move saves the Heat money, which in turn should help them complete the sign-and-trade with the Philadelphia 76ers that will land Jimmy Butler in South Beach. Adding Butler is the Heat's big coup of the offseason, and anything that helps them make that happen should be looked at as a positive.
Also, the Heat bolstered their bench a bit, as Mo Harkless and Meyers Leonard are both serviceable rotation players on reasonable contracts. Like the Whiteside situation in Portland, both Harkless and Leonard will be unrestricted free agents next summer, so neither represents a long-term commitment from Miami. Overall, the move was a solid one for the Heat. Miami trade grade: A-