Free agent center Hassan Whiteside is sure to garner a lot of attention when free agency opens in July. He had a break-out season last year with the Miami Heat, and this year was even better, averaging 14.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, and a whopping 3.7 blocks per game.
Whiteside has been rumored to be a target for the Los Angeles Lakers, who are desperately in need of a young center with his skill set. Miami doesn’t have Whiteside’s Bird Rights, which means they would have to use cap space to bring him back. Given the fact that they also need to pay star guard Dwyane Wade this summer, the hope was that a max offer could pry Whiteside away from South Beach.
However, according to a report by Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, that’s not what the lanky center is hoping for:
My understanding, reiterated in recent days, is if all things are equal financially, Whiteside wants to re-sign with Miami. He likes living here and likes the organization.
Jackson does go on to note that the Heat are rumored to prefer to offer Whiteside less than the max, which would help them have the flexibility to bring Wade back and upgrade their roster. If they go that route, it’s possible that the Lakers or another organization may be able to steal him away.
Still, the fact that all it takes for Miami to retain Whiteside is for them to match the highest bidder doesn’t bode well for Los Angeles. With most teams having cap space to spend this summer due to the spike in TV revenue, competition over free agents is going to be fierce this summer. There is more money to spend than players to spend it on, which means that it’s inevitable that some teams will be left out in the cold.
We have already heard that DeMar DeRozan prefers to remain in Toronto (and the Lakers may not be that high on him), Nicolas Batum seems to want to stay in Charlotte, and now Whiteside’s preference is to remain in Miami.
Not exactly what the Lakers were hoping to hear, but things can change quickly once players meet with teams and real figures start getting tossed around. Free agency begins on July 1st, and the Lakers are expected to be aggressive as they look to upgrade their roster.