Hold onto your butts, Miami, because NBA free agency is here. This is the season after the season, where the NBA gods giveth and taketh away. What happens over the next two weeks is arguably more important than the season itself: Thus, it's officially time to start obsessing over who the Miami Heat might gain, or lose, during the free agency period.
Free agency for the 2016-17 NBA season begins at 12:01 a.m. ET on July 1, and the Miami Heat, as always, find themselves smack-dab in the middle of every discussion surrounding the biggest "whales," a term Pat Riley uses to describe the cream-of-the-crop free agents who only become available a few times every decade. Riley prides himself on always being able to get an annual sit-down with these coveted free agents, but this year things promise to be a tad trickier than usual.
The Heat find themselves trying to keep their own whale, Hassan Whiteside, while at the same time wanting to lure an even bigger whale in Kevin Durant. All of this while conducting their annual What Is Most Important to Dwyane Wade conference, in which they find out if he's in the mood to take or give back money to the team.
Oh, and Luol Deng and Joe Johnson are free to leave as well. It's every-man-for-himself season in the NBA, and everyone is looking for his turn in the money grab machine.
So to sort things out as July 1 rapidly
- The Miami Heat reportedly will get a seat at the exclusive Kevin Durant free agency table.
- Unfortunately, so will about 20 percent of the entire NBA.
- Durant is reportedly most interested in returning to the Thunder or signing with the Warriors.
- If money is equal, Hassan Whiteside prefers to stay in Miami.
- Pat Riley says of signing Whiteside, "He's our No. 1 priority, period." We think he's lying.
- A maximum contract for Whiteside would be a projected $94.1 million over four years.
- That's just $4 million less for that same time span than the Dallas Mavericks can pay him.
- Whiteside recently referred to himself as “a businessman that plays basketball.”
- Mark Cuban is one of the most famous businessmen in the United States. Welp.
- The Los Angeles Lakers plan to "aggressively pursue Hassan Whiteside in free agency."
- Dwyane Wade is in Paris. He's going to be naked in a magazine. He doesn't seem too worried about this.
- The Clippers, Hawks, Celtics, and Timberwolves could be destinations for Luol Deng.
- The Heat definitely want him back, and money might not be Deng's largest motivation.
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Got all that? Good, because that's just the tip of the iceberg. We haven't even broached the subject of if the Miami Heat even should dedicate an extraordinary portion of their salary cap to Hassan Whiteside.
There is a portion of the Heat fanbase that would rather the team sign multiple other players and make a run at trading for disgruntled Sacramento Kings center DaMarcus Cousins.
NBA free agency is just a few days away and the Heat have some franchise-altering decisions to make. No pressure, though.