With the free agency set on July 1, Miami Heat president for basketball operations Pat Riley is banking on the premise that Hassan Whiteside would re-sign with them and made sure that he will be the team’s “top priority” and hopefully, things would work out for both parties.
Speaking to reporters, Riley stated that the 26-year old center has more to offer with his developing skills and talents both on and off the court, which is the main reason that he will be the Heat’s top priority this summer. Riley added that Whiteside has become a game changer for the Heat with the looming retirement for Chris Bosh and the Associated Press reports that with things going for Whiteside he is looking at a hefty paycheck going into the new season.
“He’s a game-changer,” Riley said. “I don’t even think he’s reached his real ceiling.”
“Your offense is only as good as what you do at the defensive end,” Riley said. “You want to explode out of there? Then you better make some stops, you better rebound the ball. And that’s why Hassan is so important to us in a lot of ways. He’ll block shots, he’ll rebound the ball, he’ll change 10 other shots, he’ll scare the hell out of about four or five other people coming into the paint and he’s got some intangibles that simply you just can’t find.”
NBA TV also noted that Riley sending a strong message to teams who would be out there, courting their prize catch player that includes the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, Boston Celtics and others.
Whiteside, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, signed a two-year contract with the Heat worth $1,751,229 including $1,751,229 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $875,615 back in Nov. 2014. Whiteside has a base salary of $981,348 and rumors are swelling that the Heat might lay out a maximum contract for him to stay with them.
Aside from Whiteside, Riley added that Heat stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh is also included in their list this summer with the hope of getting back Wade and working a contract that would have Bosh suit up for next season upon doctor’s advice.
The Heat and Bosh saga hit a bedrock when the 32-year old veteran was diagnosed with a blood clot in his lungs that sidelined him. Riley told ESPN Wednesday that they are hoping that Bosh’s condition would improve, but was honest to say that the medical condition he is in a will for sure affects their negotiations during the free agency season.
“All of us — the Heat, the doctors and also Chris – are looking to proceed forward to find a way to get him back on the court,” Riley said Wednesday during his season-ending session with the media. “Last year, we were blindsided. This year, when it happened, we’re eyes wide open with him. We all knew what the treatment was last year. It’s two years in a row. We’re all day-to-day in proceeding with this thing.”
If they let go of Bosh, the Heat will have a $40 million cap space that could be to their advantage in landing another star to their lineup and give them a boost to help Wade and Whiteside in their pursue of other talented free agents such as Kevin Durant, Al Horford, Paul Gasol and Nicolas Batum.
“He is our number one priority, period. You don’t have to look further than that. Our number one priority is Hassan Whiteside,” Riley stressed.
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