Riley expects Whiteside ‘to have a great year’

Miami Heat president Pat Riley says the franchise has had positive discussions with Hassan Whiteside this summer and believes the center will have a great season in 2018-19.

Although several prominent members of the Heat want to move on from Whiteside, the organization understands his trade value is heavily diminished and won’t move him for clutter.

Whiteside totaled just 26 points, 30 rebounds and six blocks in the five-game playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers. The disgruntled big man was very vocal about his lack of playing time in the postseason and how head coach Erik Spoelstra did not use him properly when he was on the floor.

At his end-of-the-season press conference, Riley said Whiteside wasn’t in great shape and fully conditioned for a playoff battle mentally. He mentioned the disconnect between Whiteside and Spoelstra would take a discussion between the two.

During summer league, Spoelstra said he and Whiteside have been in communication all offseason and that their relationship is not what it appears. Riley says if Whiteside stays focused and plays hard every night, the 7-footer will see more success on the floor.

“I am confident that if he just comes every night and plays as hard as he can play, and do what he does best — which is rebound the ball, block shots, be a rim protector, be a hard pick and roll player, defend, all of those things — and does it with a pure heart and not with a mixed up mind of I need this or that, he will have a great year,” Riley told Miami reporters Friday. “You go back to the first year and a half, people were talking about him being Defensive Player of the Year. He has that in him but it’s up to him.

“I am expecting him to have a great year. We value his talent. He just has got to bring it – I talk to his agents all the time. We are all in agreement. It’s up to Hassan. We are doing everything to help him but it’s up to him to decide how great he can be and how great he wants to be.”

Whiteside is owed $24.4 million and $27.1 million in the final two years of his contract. The Heat have tried to trade Whiteside this summer, but haven’t found a trade market for him.