Hassan Whiteside, who was part of the same Kings draft class as DeMarcus Cousins in 2010, returns to Sleep Train Arena tonight as a member of the Miami Heat.
“The guys that cut me, they’re not there anymore, so how smart was they,” Whiteside told the Bay Area media earlier in the week.
The 7-foot center was spurned by Sacramento’s former regime, but is thriving in Miami after playing internationally, as well as a couple stints in the NBA D-League.
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Whiteside is averaging 7.4 points per game, has scored in double figures in his last six games, and is leading Miami in shooting percentage (66.7 percent) and blocks (31).
“I’m sure it will mean something to him,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra on Whiteside’s return to Sacramento. “You just never know when a guy is ready to grab an opportunity.”
Miami has been impressed with Whiteside’s commitment after bringing him in for multiple workouts and ultimately signing him.
“There was a look in his his eye . . . when I talked to him specifically about what the expectations were of player development, of work . . . (Whiteside) looked me square in the eye and said 'I’m ready for that.' It was different than in year’s past,” Spoelstra added.
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Ironically, Whiteside, picked 33rd overall by Sacramento in the 2010 draft, will be matched up with Cousins, who Sacramento selected with the fifth overall pick in the same draft.
“He’s (Cousins) a really good big man and I got better playing against him,” said Whiteside after Friday’s shootaround. “We really helped each other out.”
Cousins and Whiteside won't be as chummy tonight fighting for a victory.
Watch Insider Bill Herenda tonight offer up “Herenda’s Agenda” on Kings Pregame Live and give postgame reaction on Kings Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet California.