Hassan Whiteside had a meeting with Miami Heat president Pat Riely a couple of weeks ago, but the 27-year old center stated that joining the free agency is not about loyalty check as rumors are swirling that he is not keen in re-signing with the Heat and is looking for the “best situation” for himself.
Whiteside is an unrestricted free agent, who would be finishing his two-year contract with the Heat worth $1.75 million. Now that he is a free agent, he could start listening to offers from other teams, and the Heat have no choice but to lose him in free agency if he signs an offer sheet with a rival team.
ESPN’s Michael Wallace reports that Whiteside is not counting the Heat out of contention with his free agency decision come July 1. He stated that he is “open” as of the moment to listen to what teams have to offer him if he would move this summer.
“I really don’t think it’s about loyalty — I think it’s just about [finding] the best situation for myself,” Whiteside said Sunday. “I didn’t say (Miami) wasn’t the best situation, but we’re going to see what happens. It’s not like I’m really counting the Heat out or counting on another team. It’s just open.”
With his statement, teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trail Blazers, and Golden State Warriors have been given hope that they could lay down their offer and possibly sign Whiteside to their respective rosters for next season. Whiteside added that he is hoping to be able to make the right decision come July 1 and considers other factors aside from the money offer.
“It’s a toss-up; it’s a lot of things that come into it,” sWhiteside, who could command a starting salary of as much as $22 million next season after he earned $990,000 this past season, said.
“It’s not one specific thing. It’s like having a wife. You can’t say one specific thing you like about her. You have to like her as a whole. I have to choose it all together, so all of the dots have to connect.”
Riley has stressed that re-signing Whiteside is a “priority” as they are still assessing if Chris Bosh would be able to return to active duty for next season. Adding to their financial woes is that the Heat has roughly $42 million to spend this free agency season wherein they have to accommodate Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng as well.
In his tenure with the Heat, Whiteside averages 14.2 points with 11.8 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game. Riley and the Heat are hoping that Whiteside would consider their offer and would return to their fold. That is, if other suitors, like the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors, can’t convince Whiteside to move to their teams this summer.