Pat Riley says re-signing Hassan Whiteside a priority despite Wade's looming free agency

Published May. 18, 2016 5:35 p.m. ET

The Miami Heat's season came to a sudden end Sunday, when they lost in Game 7 to the Raptors. So as the Heat transition their focus to the offseason, president Pat Riley addressed the team's priorities heading into the summer.

Riley met with reporters Wednesday and didn't mince words when it came to Miami's priority this offseason -- re-signing center Hassan Whiteside.

"He's our number-one priority, a game changer," he said, via the Sun-Sentinel. "I don't think he's even reached his ceiling."

Riley said that the team will be at Whiteside's door the moment free agency begins July 1.

"I met with him and asked if he likes chocolate in his gift basket or go to Parrot Jungle or sightseeing tour of Miami," Riley said. "He will be right there at 12:01 [July 1] for us.

"I want to build a team that can win and he's got to be part of it. You get to the other part of negotiations and find out how much he wants to win, too. That doesn't mean he has to take a haircut. He's got to carry a load every night that allows you to be a contender. I think he can do that."

Riley did address that the team will also need to bring back Heat legend Dwyane Wade but made it sound like the that process will be a mere formality.


"We'll sit down and talk about that with Dwyane," Riley said. "He wants to win as much as he wants to do anything. Compensation, to a player, is not just a way to get paid and live your life. Compensation to a player is about recognition and respect.

"We know where he belongs. He's a lifer. What he's done in this city over the last 13 years is irreplaceable. We want to do the right thing, no doubt."

Wade might be "a lifer" but the 12-time All-Star has had a resurgence since LeBron James returned to Cleveland. He played in 74 games this season -- his most since the 2010-11 season --€“ and averaged 19 points, 4.6 assists and 4.1 rebounds.

Last summer's negotiations didn't go so smoothly, as the 34-year-old shooting guard was rumored to bolt the Heat for the Lakers or join LeBron in Cleveland. He eventually signed a one-year, $20 million deal. It'll be interesting to see if the Heat assume Wade will take the same or maybe less to give the franchise a shot at possibly landing Kevin Durant this summer.