Hassan Whiteside may face a choice this summer between money and winning, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. The Heat center figures to get a maximum offer from someone, especially with the rising salary cap, but it may not be Miami. Winderman notes the Heat are accustomed to getting hometown discounts from players who want to be part of the franchise tradition and like the idea of being in South Florida. Whiteside said it may be tempting to be the star of another team, but that won’t affect his decision when free agency arrives. “I feel like a lot of people want to be that,” he said. “But I want to win more than anything. I don’t really want to be the face of a losing franchise. You want to be a face of a winning program. And it’s always easier to get people to come to Miami.”
There’s more news out of Miami:
- James Ennis and Jarnell Stokes are on the open market, but league rules keep them off-limits to Miami, Winderman writes in the same piece. Teams are prohibited from reacquiring players that they’ve traded away for a full calendar year or the time their contracts would have expired. The Heat traded Ennis to Memphis on November 10th and dealt Stokes to New Orleans on February 18th. Both are now free agents. Ennis and Stokes can play with the Heat’s summer league team, but neither can sign with Miami until the anniversaries of their respective trades. Stokes is currently with Miami’s D-League affiliate in Sioux Falls.
- A year after being traded to Miami, point guard Goran Dragic is playing at a more comfortable pace, Winderman writes in a separate story. Coach Erik Spoelstra changed the team’s philosophy after the All-Star break, telling players to run up court and start the offense more quickly. That benefits Dragic, who has always preferred an up-tempo approach. “He’s feeling more comfortable with organization, with the team, with his teammates, the style of play, when to attack,” Spoelstra said. “He’s gaining confidence because he knows his teammates want him to be aggressive.”
- Joe Johnson was immediately impressed with the way his new teammates play defense, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. “It’s great they’re defensive minded,” said Johnson, who signed with Miami a week ago. “You don’t see that in young ages. They know and understand to be on the court, they’ve got to make an impact somewhere.”