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Whiteside Contract Negotiations Haven't Begun; Price Tag a Concern
Tuesday, March 29
On Sunday, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported the buzz on the supremely gifted big man, who should command a massive open-market payday. Whiteside is averaging 14.1 points, 11.7 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per contest this season.
Jackson also mentioned how teammates are beginning to take more of a liking to Whiteside and that Heat president Pat Riley told Whiteside how proud he was of him.
Whiteside has truly been a revelation in Miami since bursting onto the NBA scene last season, emerging from obscurity as a potential franchise cornerstone. In an era where guard play reigns supreme, the 26-year-old is a special player who can take over games.
In discussing his future with Jackson, Whiteside said the Heat "haven't talked about [free agency]" but also spoke about the benefits of remaining in Miami for the long haul, per Jackson:
They want to see how far we get this season with this team. Playoffs will speak a lot. I hope [there's interest]. I like the organization. [Riley] is always going to do a great job of adding people that are going to help you win. It's not hard to sell to come to Miami. You can always recruit great talent.
ESPN's Zach Lowe recently referenced how Whiteside is part of an exciting, young Heat core that could form a viable foundation for the future:
Not many more exciting day-to-day things in the NBA right now than what Whiteside, Winslow, and Richardson are doing off the bench in Miami.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) March 26, 2016
Although impending NBA salary-cap increase will help the Heat's efforts to re-sign Whiteside, his asking price is going to be in the neighborhood of a max contract.
Considering he has less than two seasons under his belt in the Association, splurging on Whiteside is a risky proposition. Still, Dwyane Wade is nearing the end of his career, and Chris Bosh's future is up in the air due to health concerns, so the potential Whiteside presents may be enough to make the investment.
The Heat need a new leader to carry their organization into the next era. Whiteside has shown the talent to be the future face of the franchise, but three ejections from games in his young career has brought about questions regarding his maturity.
A scarcity of elite options at Whiteside's position ought to increase his leverage in contract talks. So too should the possibility of Miami letting him go and being haunted by how dominant he might be elsewhere.