Pat Riley: Hassan Whiteside is ‘our No. 1 priority’ this offseason
Heat center Hassan Whiteside is about to become an unrestricted free agent and without his Bird Rights, the team has no advantage over the rest of the league in retaining him from a financial standpoint. But none of that phases The Godfather of the Miami Mafia.
In his exit interview with reporters on Wednesday, Heat president Pat Riley made clear that re-signing Whiteside will be the team’s No. 1 priority heading into the offseason, per Ethan J. Skolnick of the Miami Herald.
Pat Riley calls Hassan Whiteside "our No. 1 priority. Period."
— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) May 18, 2016
Whiteside, 26, had an outstanding encore to his breakout 2014-15 campaign, averaging 14.2 points per game, 11.8 rebounds per game, and a stupefying 3.7 blocks per game this past season. One of the league’s most imposing two-way forces, Whiteside will almost certainly command max-level money, and he has earned every penny of it.
The Heat, of course, have other pressing matters on their plate this summer with only six players officially under contract for next season. Starters Luol Deng and Joe Johnson will be unrestricted free agents, as will bench cogs Amar’e Stoudemire, Gerald Green, and Tyler Johnson. Ditto for Heat lifers Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem, by far the most important of the bunch.
Whiteside is a core part of Miami’s future, and it’s great to see the Heat establishing a sense of urgency in bringing him back right from the get-go. But keeping him could get very costly, especially with all of the other incumbents the Heat need to re-sign. Nevertheless, Riley has pulled off much crazier things before, so we should all know by now to never bet against the family.