Pat Riley sounds like a man ready to pay Hassan Whiteside

Riley will go to the negotiating table with Whiteside this summer. (Getty Images)
Riley will go to the negotiating table with Whiteside this summer. (Getty Images)

NBA free agency remains one of the more unpredictable events in sports (remember this?), but the Heat sound like keeping Hassan Whiteside will be a top priority this summer.

Whiteside is finishing the final months of a deal that pays him under $1 million this season and is set to hit a huge payday this summer. The guy who was training at the Charlotte YMCA in 2014 could be looking at a four-year, $80 million contract.

“I’ve never been around that kind of turnaround,” team president Pat Riley said this afternoon. “We’ve had some players that we’ve opened our eyes up on, but I think what Hassan did last year and what he’s doing now, his level of play– it’s just all about more experience, more reps, understanding how important he is for us.

“But in my 50 years in the NBA, I have never seen that kind of phenomenon. I know this is hurting me right now as far as his free agency goes because I’m complimenting him, but he’s grown a lot.”

Whiteside has been playing off the bench since early February, but has continued his run as the most dominant shot blocker in the league. He leads the NBA by wide margin with 226 blocks, plus he is averaging 13.5 points and 11.7 rebounds in a little under 29 minutes per game.

[Heat haven’t ruled out Chris Bosh returning this season]

[Video: Goran Dragic dunk attempt stopped by “flat tire”]

[Tyler Johnson shooting to be back for final few regular-season games]

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