Those who have been looking ahead to free agency have long pegged Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside as someone the Los Angeles Lakers should make a priority this summer. The soon-to-be 27-year-old center would be perfect as a rim-protector for this young Lakers team.
With D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Julius Randle already working hard towards next year, and the Lakers potentially drafting Duke’s Brandon Ingram to fill in the small forward spot, Whiteside would give the Lakers one of the best young starting fives in the entire NBA.
Apparently the Lakers see the value in Whiteside too as according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, Whiteside seems to be one of the top names on the Lakers’ wish list:
There is a sense that Whiteside is one of the top names on the Lakers’ wish list of free agents, with the Celtics also interested. The problem with trying to peg either as having some edge over the other neglects that Whiteside could be the most obtainable free agent in the class and likely gets a lot of interest beyond those two suitors.
Regardless of how highly the Lakers (and other teams) view him, none of that matters if Whiteside wishes to remain in Miami which Kyler believes is the case if they offer him a max deal:
He’s comfortable there, has had success there and they can pay him the most money of any team in the league. Assuming that’s the offer from the HEAT, there is a better than average chance he signs a new deal. If the HEAT try to play games, sources close to the situation say Whiteside will go shopping.
The question is whether the Heat will be able to give Whiteside the money he is looking for. They do not have his full ‘Bird Rights’ meaning they will not be able to go over the salary cap to sign him. Further complicating things is the fact that Dwyane Wade will have a $30 million cap hold that basically removes all of their cap room, so they would have to get a deal done with Wade first before trying to fit Whiteside in.
Whiteside will undoubtedly garner a lot of attention, not just from the Lakers, but from teams all across the league. If the Lakers can convince Whiteside to come to LA, it would be an outstanding get and quickly begin the turnaround for the franchise.