Sports / Utah Jazz / 

Report: Jazz to sign center Hassan Whiteside

Portland Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside (21) drives up against Miami Heat forward Meyers Leonard (0) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020, in Miami.

Portland Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside (21) drives up against Miami Heat forward Meyers Leonard (0) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020, in Miami. (Wilfredo Lee, Associated Press)



SALT LAKE CITY — A now five-year-old tweet from Rudy Gobert may have revealed his feelings for his newest teammate.

"You can have good stats but hurt your team... numbers do lie sometimes," Gobert tweeted.

What or who was he talking about? French National Team teammate Evan Fourneir helped potentially reveal it.

"Blancoté ?? lool," Fournier responded.

Translation: Whiteside. The very player who will be backing up Gobert next season.

The Utah Jazz agreed to a minimum deal with center Hassan Whiteside, ESPN first reported Tuesday.

Whiteside, an eight-year NBA veteran, played for the Sacramento Kings last season where he averaged 8.1 points and 6.0 rebounds. But he's had much more successful seasons.

In 2019-20, he averaged 15.5 points and 13.5 rebounds with Portland. And he had a five-year run in Miami where he averaged 14.1 points and 11.9 rebounds. The 7-footer has always put up big numbers — and that's made him one of the more polarizing players in the league.

Were all those numbers empty? Did he actually help his team win? Gobert certainly didn't seem to think so.

And he reiterated that after a 2019 Jazz victory over Portland. Before the contest, Blazers star Damian Lillard said, "I think Whiteside is the best defensive center, shot-blocking center, in the league."

The Jazz went on to win 121-115 and Whiteside finished with a -28 plus-minus in just 21 minutes; and he wasn't in at the end. Moments after the game, Gobert was asked for his response to Lillard's comment, and he didn't pull any punches.

"He should have told his coach to put him in at the end," Gobert quipped.

But all those things should be in the past when both are in the same uniform. For one, Whiteside's career stalled, playing just 31 games last season for a Kings team that chose youth over experience.

That left him waiting for a new chance this offseason — and Utah had an opening. After trading Derrick Favors to clean up the cap sheet, the Jazz were in need of a reliable backup center. The team's 2020 first-round pick didn't play a meaningful minute in his rookie season and is coming off a severe ankle sprain.

Azubuike said after his first game of the SLC Summer League on Tuesday that it felt like it's been a full two years since he's played regular five-on-five basketball. That doesn't sound like someone ready to be a full-time rotation player in the NBA.

So the Jazz had a need for a backup center; but after using the full mid-level exception on Rudy Gay earlier Tuesday, they only could bring one in on a minimum salary.

Enter Whiteside.

It's a somewhat surprising move, for sure, but one that could pay off. Whiteside should be able to provide some production off the bench, and he's experienced enough to start in a pinch as well. Or Gobert might be proved right from all those years ago.

Whatever the case, the Jazz locker room just got an interesting addition.

SIGN UP FOR THE KSL.COM NEWSLETTER

Catch up on the top news and features from KSL.com, sent weekly.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to KSL.com's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast