Hassan Whiteside is the top free agent big man this summer and the latest Los Angeles Lakers rumors has the Hollywood team making the center the top priority this season. According to a report, the Lakers value “rim protection” to improve their team next season and Whiteside fits the bill.
Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne from ESPN claims that their league sources “plan to aggressively pursue” Whiteside, who had breakout seasons with the Heat the last two years to become the best big man free agent to be available this 2016 offseason.
According to other Lakers rumors, L.A. will also try to get Kevin Durant in free agency but the Oklahoma City Thunder superstar might prefer other winning teams like the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics, among others this summer.
If Durant signs with one of those teams or re-sign with the Thunder, it’s likely that the Lakers turn their attention to Whiteside, who will also demand a maximum contract like other top free agents.
Whiteside had his best year with the Heat last season averaging 14.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and a league-leading 3.7 blocks per game. The 27-year-old center also played in the postseason but missed some games due to injuries. However, despite being out in some games of the 2016 NBA Playoffs, it’s likely that his value did not drop down and that he will still earn a maximum contract.
The Lakers will contend for Whiteside against other teams like the Heat, Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers, all of which have been reported to be aggressively pursuing Whiteside in free agency.
Los Angeles drafted top prospected Brandon Ingram as the second overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft and Lakers rumors are now ripe that they are ready to trade other young guys like D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle to build a title contending team next season.
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