The Miami Heat lost to the Toronto Raptors last Sunday night in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals and now look to what moves they need to make this summer. With four of their five starters testing free agency and Chris Bosh unsure if he’ll be able to play next season (or ever), Pat Riley and the rest of the organization have some serious decisions to make.
But according to Riley, the Heat have one priority in mind, find a way to keep Hassan Whiteside.
“He's our No. 1 priority, period,” Riley told reporters on Wednesday. “Our No. 1 priority is Hassan Whiteside.”
Whiteside went above and beyond the call of his 2-year, $1.75 million contract he signed back in 2014 and now enters free agency unrestricted as one of the top targets for teams in need of an athletic big man.
While there is little doubt that some team out there will be willing to offer him the max contract, the question is whether it will be the Heat and whether that will be enough to keep him in South Beach. Riley, however, is more than confident that Whiteside will be in Miami to begin next season, stating “He'll be right there at 12:01 for us.”
The 26 year old center averaged 14.2 points and 11.8 rebounds this passed season. He also led the lead in blocks with 269 and finished third in voting for defensive player of the year.
With $40 million in cap space and a number of players in free agency that will draw a lot of interest, Pat Riley has some tough decisions to make. If the Heat want to keep Whiteside, they may have to let go of one of the other three starters also looking for big contracts.
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