In an off-season filled with huge questions for the Miami Heat, Pat Riley has already delivered one undeniable answer: Hassan Whiteside is staying in the 305.
In a post published this morning on the Player's Tribune, the elite seven-foot talent announced he's staying with the Heat. The Associated Press' Tim Reynolds reports that Whiteside agreed to a four-year, maximum salary deal with the team.
Here's what Whiteside had to say about the decision:
I’ve played on eight teams since college — from Reno to Sioux Falls to Sichuan, China. I am not ready for there to be a ninth.
I have decided to re-sign with Miami. I just wanted to take this time to tell all the fans how much you mean to this team, and to me.
Can’t wait to get back to work and try to bring another championship to Miami. #HeatNation
That max contract deal will pay Whiteside about $98 million in all — quite a stunning contract for a guy the Heat plucked from obscurity two years ago. The 2010 second round draft pick had stumbled from the D-league to far-flung leagues in China and Lebanon before the Heat gave him a chance in 2014.
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In Miami, though, Whiteside has become a force, setting shot-blocking records and calming a mercurial temperament.
Riley's two biggest decisions this off-season were how to handle Whiteside and Dwyane Wade's free agency. With Whiteside down, the Heat will presumably work something out with the face of their franchise.
The real question is whether there's enough cap space left now to make a serious run at Kevin Durant, the free agent superstar.