Hassan Whiteside returns to Miami as mentor, reserve with Kings

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Former Heat center Hassan Whiteside, back in South Florida with the Sacramento Kings for Saturday night’s game at AmericanAirlines Arena, has taken it upon himself to handle the rookie hazing with Kings teammate Tyrese Haliburton.

As is his wont, Whiteside first built his case with social-media posts.

He then took it further in a Zoom media interview.

“Rook is out of control!” Whiteside said. “He forgot the towels and I’m like, ‘We need doughnuts.’ Then he said, Krispy Kreme is not good. I’m like, ‘Man!’ You can’t disrespect Krispy Kreme.’

“But I love messing with Rook. I love messing with all of the guys. These guys are a great group of guys. They all got great personalities and that’s why I want to see them win.”

After playing last season with the Portland Trail Blazers on the final year of the four-year, $98 million contract he signed with the Heat in the 2016 offseason, Whiteside is with the Kings this season on a one-year, veteran-minimum contract, earning $2.3 million.

Whiteside actually has been effusive with praise for Haliburton, who has emerged as a steal from his selection at No. 12.

“He plays like he has been in the league for years, him in the pick and roll, his knowledge of the game and his pace,” Whiteside said. “He got a really bright future. The Kings got a really great draft pick with him. He got a chance to be a really good defender. I think he has an ugly shot, but it goes in. I tell him all of the time, ‘Just keep shooting.’ "

Playing as a reserve behind Richaun Holmes, Whiteside arrived for Saturday’s game against the Heat averaging 7.5 points on .569 shooting, 4.8 rebounds and one block in 13.3 minutes per game this season, having missed four games due to a sore left hip.

For Whiteside, 31, it has been a full-circle journey, drafted by the Kings at No. 33 in the second round of the 2010 NBA Draft, then waived by Sacramento on July 16, 2012.