Hassan Whiteside became one of the most dominant big men in the NBA this past season, leading the league in blocks (3.7 per game) while averaging a double-double (14.2 ppg, 11.8 rpg) for the second straight season. As a result, Whiteside is due for a BIG upgrade in pay from the two-year, $1.75 million contract he signed with the Miami Heat in 2014.
So, who will give him that payday? Here are the four teams most likely to sign him:
4) Miami Heat
There's no doubt that Whiteside's heart wants to stay in Miami, but whether they can afford him is another matter entirely. They still need to re-sign Dwyane Wade, and they'd also like to bring back Luol Deng, among others. Both of them would need to take significant pay cuts for Miami to give Whiteside a competitive deal, and even then, they'd probably be one of the lowest bidders.
However, Pat Riley has worked off these kind of miracles before, and Whiteside does want to stay. Plus, if Chris Bosh's max contract comes off the books if blood clots force him to retire, they'd be able to give Whiteside whatever he wants.
3) Houston Rockets
Assuming Dwight Howard opts out of his contract and leaves Houston, as expected, the Rockets will have a lot of cap space and a need for a rim protector. Whiteside is the best big man on the market, and Houston will undoubtedly throw everything they have at him. After all, they're still in win-now mode.
2) Dallas Mavericks
Dallas could have over $56 million in cap space this summer - the third-most in the league - and there's no question they'll offer Whiteside the max (or close to it). They've been desperately trying to land a shot-blocking big man to pair with Dirk Nowitzki, and Whiteside could move them much closer to being a true contender.
Having that much cap space also creates the opportunity to bring in multiple star players, which owner Mark Cuban will definitely try to do. That is something that will appeal to Whiteside.
1) Los Angeles Lakers
Speaking of cap space, the Lakers have more than anyone this summer. They also need a rim protector, and Whiteside loves the idea of playing in Hollywood. The goal for Los Angeles this offseason is to bring in two top-level players, and selling Whiteside on all of that potential - while continuing the tradition of Lakers big men (which is a stretch, but they'll pitch him that) - should be enough for him to sign a max contract with LA.