On Saturday, reports surfaced that the Los Angeles Lakers planned to "aggressively pursue" Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside at the start of free agency. They will be far from the only team, and on Sunday, Whiteside made it pretty clear he's fairly excited about the prospect of NBA general managers falling all over themselves to attain his services.
"I was calling those teams," Whiteside told Ethan J. Skolnick of the Miami Herald, referring to how he was toiling away in the D-League and overseas prior to the Heat signing him to a small two-year deal in 2014. The Lakers were actually one of the teams to work out Whiteside before he was ultimately snatched up by the Heat, but chose to go in a different direction at the time.
If they want Whiteside this summer, they are going to have to offer significantly more than the veteran's minimum. For a player who has made just over $3 million total in his career, the prospect of a max deal probably sounds pretty great. If the Lakers offer one they may just have a chance to sign the premier shot blocker, because he didn't exactly give a firm commitment that he wanted to stay with the Heat:
Asked if he'll stay in Miami if all things are equal. Long pause. "We'll see."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 26, 2016
Whiteside wants to get his free agency wrapped up quickly, but he says he'll be looking at everything and considering a ton of factors before choosing his next destination:
Whiteside says no state tax is a factor. "But you can get traded."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 26, 2016
Whiteside non-committal on which specific factor means the most. Compares it to picking a wife. "Got to have everything."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 26, 2016
The Lakers definitely don't have "everything" just yet, but they do have a lot of positives to offer Whiteside. The team has a young core, and we already know he's a fan of at least one of the players in it:
I like this guy already pic.twitter.com/DYfyeU49Ky— Hassan Whiteside (@youngwhiteside) June 4, 2015
The team additionally has a ton of money to go get other veterans to suit up alongside him. It remains to be seen if that's enough to sway arguably the top center on the market, but the Lakers certainly should give it a try.
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