Armed with more than $60 million in salary cap space this summer, the Los Angeles Lakers are expected to be major players in free agency. One name that many have talked about as being a great fit for the team is Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside.
The Lakers obviously have a huge hole at the center position with the Roy Hibbert experiment was an overall failure. As an excellent rim protector and rebounder, as well as being only 27 years old, Whiteside seems checks all of the boxes the Lakers are looking for.
The Lakers apparently believe the same thing as Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein of ESPN report that the team is expected to aggressively pursue Whiteside in free agency:
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 25, 2016
This shouldn’t come as any surprise as the Lakers have long been linked with Whiteside and the fit works both ways. Whiteside is looking for an increased role which the Lakers can provide and the Lakers sorely need an upgrade in the middle.
Also working in the Lakers’ favor is the fact that the Miami Heat do not own Whiteside’s ‘Bird Rights’ meaning they can not go over the salary cap to re-sign him. With the Heat also in pursuit of Kevin Durant, they likely want to keep their cap space open and re-signing Whiteside would cut into that.
Center is clearly a focus for the Lakers as the team has also been rumored to be pursuing Atlanta Hawks big man Al Horford and they also spent their second round pick on young Croatian big man Ivica Zubac. If they are able to land Whiteside, this summer will undoubtedly be viewed as a success.