Whiteside announced Friday in a piece through The Players' Tribune that he would re-sign with the Heat, the team that had nurtured the center's rise from NBA washout to All-Star level talent. The 27-year-old reportedly had a max contract on the table from the Mavericks, but the Heat were able to extend a similarly competitive offer to retain the big man's services. Whiteside's deal can't be finalized until July 7, but barring an unexpected change of heart, he'll be patrolling the paint for the Heat for the next several seasons.
The Mavericks were rumored to be the favorites to land Whiteside at one point during the free-agency frenzy that kicked off at midnight ET Friday, but after evaluating things with his agent, the top center on the open market agreed to stay with the Heat. The terms of Whiteside's contract aren't yet clear, but it seems to be a good bet that the 27-year-old will sign a max contract worth close to $100 million. After emerging from relative obscuring during the 2014-15 season to claim the Heat's starting center job, Whiteside took his game to the next level during his first full season in Miami in 2015-16, averaging 14.2 points, 11.8 boards and a NBA-leading 3.7 blocks per game. He should remain one of the league's top rebounders and rim protectors while he remains squarely in his prime.
Whiteside sprained his right MCL during the Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Raptors, costing his the final four contests. He said he's since worked on strengthening the knee and is back at full strength. After playing on a minimum deal both of the last two seasons, Whiteside will hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent on July 1. The 27-year-old is expected to have no trouble fetching max offers from multiple suitors, likely including the Heat.
Whiteside sustained the injury midway through the
Whiteside (knee) will travel with the team to Toronto for Sunday's Game 7, but he will not play, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.
Whiteside had already been ruled out for Game 7, but the fact that he's making the trip north is certainly a step in the right direction. The big man remains without a return timeline, but if Miami is able to advance, there's a chance Whiteside could be available at some point in the Eastern Conference Finals against Cleveland. Winderman also noted that if Miami does, indeed, win Sunday, Whiteside would travel with the team directly to Cleveland, rather than returning to Miami for treatment.
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