Pat Riley Ripped Hassan Whiteside, But He Has Himself To Blame For That Awful Contract

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty Images)

Pat Riley has got to be kicking himself for doling out Hassan Whiteside’s contract.

And with good reason.

After dumping $98 million on a guy who then clashed with the Miami Heat’s head coach and barely saw the floor in a first-round playoff exit, you’d be pissed too.

“By the time we got to the playoffs I don’t think he was ready,” Riley told reporters on Monday.

As NBA lineups shrink and the ball moves faster, the center has gone the way of the NFL running back: If you don’t have an absolute star or the perfect fit at the position, it’s better to cobble together multiple cheap options who bring different skills to the table.

The Warriors carry five(!) centers — Zaza Pachulia, JaVale McGee, David West, Jordan Bell, Kevon Looney — and that’s excluding the minutes Draymond Green plays there.

Instead, the Heat hamstrung themselves with a center who is hopeless once he’s more than four feet from either basket.

And his contract is as unmovable as his feet.

“How will Hassan transform his thinking — 99 percent of it — to get the kind of improvement that Spo wants so he can be effective? How can [head coach Erik Spoelstra] transform his thinking when it comes to offense and defense or minutes or whatever? However he uses him, that’s what you do” Riley added. “I have the same problem with Hassan. That problem is that he’s going to have to do something to change because he’s a helluva player. … How does he make himself effective?”

Riley and Co. had better hope for unforeseen improvements from Whiteside and across the roster, because they already have 11 guys making roughly $120 million in 2018-19, according to the Miami Herald.

That’s almost $20 million over the projected cap and a few million shy of the tax threshold. And that’s without re-signing free agents Dwyane Wade and Wayne Ellington and paying incoming rookies.

Maybe the problem in Miami isn’t the guy who jumped at the chance to make $98 million, but the guy who financially committed to a team that missed the playoffs in 2017 and had the worst point differential of any 2018 playoff team.