MIAMI — Hassan Whiteside wasn’t ready to buy a house one year ago. As an unrestricted free agent whose NBA future was uncertain in the summer of 2016, that investment was put on hold.
But after signing a four-year, $98 million max deal to stay with the Heat in July, Whiteside purchased a home in Miami Beach just a few months later. This offseason, Whiteside has been spending his time working out in Miami while also finding time to buy a home for his mother.
What a difference 11 months can make.
“It’s a lot less thinking about different teams and stuff,” Whiteside said Sunday afternoon at the Mountain Dew NBA 3X tournament at Bayfront Park. “It’s a lot better. It’s good to have a base. You know where you’re going to be.”
Just days after surprising his mother Debbie with a new six-bedroom house in his home state of North Carolina, Whiteside spoke about how relaxed he feels entering an offseason that includes some stability.
“It’s different, you know,” Whiteside said. “Because I know who I’m going to have next year. I know who my teammates are going to be. I know my coach and general manager and president and team is going to be. I know whose center I’m going to be.”
Whiteside may know who some of his teammates will be next season, but there are questions surrounding the futures of a few guys.
James Johnson, Luke Babbitt and Udonis Haslem are set to be unrestricted free agents this summer, and Dion Waiters and Willie Reed have already informed the Heat they intend to decline the player options in their contracts to become unrestricted free agents. Miami also has a decision to make regarding Wayne Ellington, as it has a team option worth $6.3 million to bring him back.
On Sunday, Whiteside was already answering questions as if the Heat core would return next season.
“We got a fresh start,” he said. “Guys did it before so that belief that was there before, it’s even more there. They know what they’re capable of. We got a lot of confident guys that’s confident in their abilities and we got more used to playing with each other. It’s going to be great.”
When asked specifically about the futures of Johnson and Waiters — who are both expected to get big pay raises in free agency — Whiteside said he’s “very confident” the duo will be back with the Heat next season.
“I’m very confident they will be back,” Whiteside said. “I’m not even thinking about them being gone. I’m thinking like they will be here next year. … Them guys want to be here.”
After the Heat officially erase Chris Bosh’s contract from their salary cap, they will have about $38 million in cap space this offseason. Along with rooting for the core to stay together, Whiteside added that he may try to recruit some “big free agents” to Miami this summer.
As for the June 22 NBA draft, Whiteside trusts the Heat’s front office will make the right choice with the 14th overall pick.
“You can always add shooting — especially the way Dion and Goran get in the paint,” Whiteside said when asked about the Heat’s needs. “You can never have too many shooters. That’s what a coach told me.”
But for the most part, Whiteside is just focusing on himself this offseason. No more free-agent meetings, no more uncertainty surrounding his immediate NBA future.
“I’m going to stay in Miami pretty much and workout and stuff,” Whiteside said of his plans for the next few months.
This summer is going to be a lot quieter for Whiteside and that’s a good thing.