The Miami Heat fell short in their goal to face off against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA playoffs 2016 - a matchup that would have featured an exciting LeBron James vs Dwyane Wade battle. Despite the loss, the NBA team gained quite a number of revelations this season. Although they have yet to figure out what to do with Chris Bosh next season, the Miami Heat found out that they have several promising players on the roster apart from Wade.
Leading the list of Miami Heat's rising stars is none other than Hassan Whiteside. The center, who shone in the hardwood court when Bosh and Wade had to take a break due to injuries, proved to be a remarkable leader of the group. Despite his rocky journey to the top, Whiteside can now be compared to the likes of NBA All-Star Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors. Hence, it comes as no surprise when rumors started circulating that the Miami Heat intends to sign him as soon as possible.
"He's obviously, I think, our No. 1 priority. Period," said Pat Riley of Whiteside in earlier interviews. The Miami Heat owner added, "You don't have to look further than that. While there might be players out there in free agency, our No. 1 priority is Hassan Whiteside. He's 26 years old. He's a game changer. I don't think he's even reached his real ceiling in a couple areas of the game."
Riley further noted, "I want to build a team that can win, and (Whiteside's) got to be part of that. I really believe it's important for him to be part of that."
With the Miami Heat openly declaring their desire to keep Whiteside, will the NBA star agree to re-sign with the group? Will the Dwyane Wade team have the promising center back next season?
The answer remains uncertain. Sources reportedly close to the matter believe that one thing hinders the Miami Heat and Hassan Whiteside from sealing the deal - the contract. Just like in most cases in the NBA, the asking price of the basketball star might just be too steep for the team.
"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," revealed Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. He added, "But we've repeatedly heard the Heat's preference is persuading him to sign under the max (projected to be $21.6 million next season) by selling him on the lack of state income tax, his comfort level here, the roster flexibility created by him taking a bit less; and that Miami can offer 7.5 percent annual raises off the first year salary (compared with 4.5 percent elsewhere). That means a four-year deal starting at $20.7 million with Miami would equal a four-year deal starting at $21.6 million elsewhere."
Meanwhile, the Miami Heat will reportedly eye a cheaper deal for two of its key stars as well: Luol Deng and Amar'e Stoudemire. Given Riley's decision to pursue Whiteside, the possibility of keeping these two stars alongside the likes of Dwyane Wade becomes nearly impossible. The salary cap space, which now finds a higher ceiling, poses a daunting issue for the Miami Heat in terms of keeping all theirs stars.
What do you think? Should the Miami Heat give Hassan Whiteside the max deal? Or should they let him go to keep Luol Deng and Amar'e Stoudemire?