The Los Angeles Lakers are among the teams set to aggressively pursue Hassan Whiteside this offseason, recet Lakers rumors suggested. Whiteside checks all the right boxes for a team in dire need of rim protection and rebounding.
As presently constructed, the Lakers have a huge hole to fill down low. The team plans to remedy the situation by offering Whiteside a max contract, something the 7-foot defensive ace has been wanting all along.
Lakers Nation reported that the team has over $60 million in salary cap space this offseason. This means the Lakers have enough wiggle room to sign two max-contract players. According to Lakers rumors. general manager Mitch Kupchak and company could pitch Whiteside the notion of pairing him with another elite free agent while being surrounded by a cast of young and promising prospects.
Whiteside was the league’s blocks leader this past season. Morning News USA noted that the Miami Heat center averaged 3.7 rejections per game while scoring 14.2 points and grabbing 11.8 rebounds. Whiteside will drastically improve the Lakers’ defensive efficiency, while also playing a big role on offense.
Whiteside is good enough to command double teams in the post. This would carve out space for the likes of D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Brandon Ingram to take the open three-point shot.
The primary obstacle in the Lakers’ bid for Whiteside is Miami Heat president Pat Riley. The man known around the league as “The Godfather” has vehemently insisted that they will prioritize re-signing the 27-year old North Carolina native.
“More than likely, players out there in free agency, our No. 1 priority is Hassan Whiteside,” Riley told ESPN at the conclusion of the 2015-16 NBA season. “He’s a game changer.”
One bright spot for the Lakers is that the Heat do not own Whiteside’s “Bird Rights.” This means they are prohibited from going over the salary cap in the hopes of offering him more money than other interested teams.