Hassan Whiteside Says He Had a 'Great Talk' with Pat Riley About His Heat Future

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 1, 2018

MIAMI, FL - APRIL 21: Hassan Whiteside #21 of the Miami Heat looks on in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Philadelphia 76ers during the 2018 NBA Playoffs on April 21, 2018 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside had a productive meeting with team president Pat Riley and head coach Erik Spoelstra earlier this summer.

"We had a great talk," Whiteside said, per the Sun Sentinel's Shandel Richardson. "I just think it's trust on both sides. I think that's the biggest thing ... It was about a four-hour meeting. It was a lot about life. It was two hours basketball, two hours life. It was a good meeting."

Whiteside is coming off a somewhat underwhelming 2017-18 season. He averaged 14.0 points and 11.4 rebounds per game, down from 17.0 and 14.1, respectively.

Most concerning, he was a liability in the NBA playoffs when matched up against the more athletic Joel Embiid. According to NBA.com, the Heat had a minus-15.3 net rating with him on the floor, while he averaged just 15.4 minutes per game during Miami's first-round exit at the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Whiteside told Richardson he "[feels] great" after dealing with a knee injury a year ago.

"I wasn't healthy all last year," he said. "I was in and out of the rotation with injuries. Just coming back healthy. Coming back from a bone bruise, it takes months to heal."

Whiteside's issues go deeper than just his health, though. He's a traditional center in an era in which teams are expecting their big men to not only score and defend inside but also move out closer to the three-point line and guard multiple positions.

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Embiid is the perfect example of the shifting demands, and his success when matched up with Whiteside illustrated Whiteside's limitations. In three games after returning from injury, Embiid averaged 18.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in the first round of the postseason.

The Heat have to make things work with Whiteside in the short term because they have few other options. The Miami Herald's Barry Jackson reported earlier this month that Miami made Whiteside available in trades, but his market "is limited, if nonexistent."

Whiteside will earn $25.4 million in 2018-19 and has a $27.1 million player option for 2019-20. Miami's best hope of trading him will be next offseason, when he'll have an expiring contract—assuming he exercises his option.