Los Angeles Lakers will have the most cap space in the NBA when free agency kicks off on July 1st, and it sounds like they are going to try and use it to plug their roster’s gigantic hole at center.
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The front office plans to “aggressively pursue” Miami Heat free agent center Hassan Whiteside in free agency, according to Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.Whiteside, who the Heat signed out of the D-League during the 2014-15 season, averaged 14.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, and a league-leading 3.7 blocks per game last year.
Whiteside will in all likelihood be seeking a max contract following a season in which he made less than $1 million dollars, and there are plenty of reasons the Lakers would be wise to give it to him. Whiteside is a rarity in free agency: a low-mileage, 27-year old unrestricted free agent who would slot in almost perfectly with the timeline of the Lakers’ young core.
His fit would be nearly as flawless on the court, where he would be far-and-away the best pick-and-roll dance partner D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson have ever had, while his rim protection would be able to compensate for a ton of the issues the Lakers’ defense faced last year.
The Heat can offer Whiteside the most money in free agency, but without his full-Bird rights, they have to sign him into cap space. If the Lakers swoop in and sway Whiteside early in free agency while the Heat wait around on Kevin Durant, they could fill their biggest need with arguably the best center on the market.