The Miami Heat can afford to trade star big man Hassan Whiteside, especially with the emergence of rookie Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk. A left knee injury has sidelined Whiteside for 11 games, including six straight outings, and it remains unclear when he will suit up again for the Heat, who have a 13-13 mark.

Tom D’Angelo of the Palm Beach Post said Whiteside is not untouchable when it comes to trade possibilities, especially now that Adebayo can step up and become the Heat’s main man in the shaded lane. D’Angelo said the Heat could trade Whiteside, depending on their stand in the playoff race comes the February trade deadline.

Whiteside is in the second year of a four-year deal worth $98 million, which could become a hindrance if ever the Heat decide to trade him. In 15 games this season, Whiteside is averaging 14.9 points, 12.7 boards and 1.6 blocks per outing.

Adebayo a revelation for Heat

The 20-year Adebayo, for his part, is averaging 5.6 points and 3.9 rebounds in 17 games, playing an average of 15.9 minutes per outing for the Heat. In their Monday’s 107-82 rout of the Memphis Grizzlies, Adebayo tallied 14 points, four rebounds, two assists and two blocks off the bench. The 6-foot-10 Adebayo manned the shaded area for most of the game after Olynyk got into foul trouble early.

The rookie’s defense also limited veteran center Marc Gasol to 19 points on 5-of-14 shooting with just six rebounds.

“He was huge for us,” Olynyk said. “He just comes in and changes the whole dynamic of the game with his athletic ability on the court.” Adebayo started in the first three games that Whiteside was out, averaging 7.7 points and 8.0 boards in 25 minutes per contest.

Bulls gauge interest for their big men

According to KC Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Bulls are eyeing to gauge the market’s interest for forward Nikola Mirotic and center, Robin Lopez, ahead of the February trade deadline.

Johnson reported that executives from both the Eastern and Western Conferences said the Bulls have made preliminary inquiries on the value of Mirotic and Lopez.

The Bulls are interested in adding draft picks and won’t take in long-term contracts in deals involving Mirotic and Lopez. The Bulls cannot trade Mirotic until January 15 since he signed a one-year, $12.5 million deal in the season.

Since he returned to the lineup on December 8, Mirotic is averaging 16.3 points per game for the Bulls. Mirotic was sidelined after he suffered facial fracture when he was punched by teammate Bobby Portis during an altercation in practice.