Hassan Whiteside will be the most sought-after big man this offseason and the Los Angeles Lakers have emerged as “the favorites” to sign the free agent, according to a source close to the team.
Though Pat Riley and the Miami Heat have reiterated their desire to bring back Whiteside, the center could leave for the Lakers since Los Angeles can offer him a more lucrative contract.
Miami Heat face major questions
Since Miami don’t own Whiteside’s bird rights, they will have to use cap room to re-sign the shot-blocking sensation. That could be a major dilemma for Riley seeing as Heat also intend to bring back franchise player Dwayne Wade, Luol Deng and Joe Johnson – who are all unrestricted free agents this summer.
Even Riley, a master at convincing players to take paycuts, would find it hard to bring back the roster that nearly qualified to the Eastern Conference Finals this postseason. Essentially, Miami will have to sacrifice Deng and Johnson in order to re-sign Wade and Whiteside. The question: Is Whiteside worth giving up integral role players and potentially ruining team chemistry?
Earlier this year, Whiteside expressed shock when told that the Lakers plan to court him during the summer. “They’ve been talking about me and the Lakers? I didn’t know that,” he said. Whiteside’s response could be interpreted in many ways. But it proved two things: 1) There is mutual interest, and 2) Whiteside likes the attention.
Hassan Whiteside reminds the world of his value
With the likes of Steven Adams, Tristan Thompson and Bismack Biyombo thriving during the playoffs, Whiteside made a point of tweeting about it last week. “If you haven’t learned anything from watching the playoffs, it’s clear how important the center position is.#NBAPlayoffs”
Whiteside’s tweet was a way to shore up his own value going into free agency. And the Lakers value him and need him more than any other team. The Purple & Gold has been yearning for a quality big man since Dwight Howard bolted in free agency few years ago.
According to a Heat Nation reporter, Lakers and Whiteside will prove to be a great match. “Whiteside will most likely get a maximum contract this summer, and it could be the Los Angeles Lakers who offer it to him,” he wrote, before adding that Kobe Bryant’s exit has opened the door for a new franchise player, “Considering that Whiteside will be one of the top free agents and that the Lakers need a center, there is no doubt they will offer him a contract.”
Expect the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers to emerge as the top three destinations for Whiteside. The Lakers are in the best position to offer him the most lucrative deal and that might prove to be the clincher for Hassan Whiteside.