Heat President Pat Riley declares Hassan Whiteside top priority

Riley also reveals free agency plans on Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem


MIAMI – Miami Heat President Pat Riley held his end of season news conference on Wednesday, during which he laid out his plans for free agency and for center Hassan Whiteside.

Riley made his free agency intentions clear when he was asked about Whiteside, "he's our number one priority, period. He wanted to prove he could play and he's proven that. We want to keep him here."

Riley went on to say of the shot-blocking center, "I think he's ready" to carry a team.

Whiteside told Riley that he does not need the free agency red carpet recruiting treatment that includes trips to Jungle Island and other touristic stops in South Florida, because, Riley revealed, Whiteside already knows what playing and living here is all about.

Whiteside will likely command a max contract once free-agency starts at 12:01am on July 1st. 

Riley said he wants to keep the core of the team together and that means keeping Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem, both of whom he said are "forever" kind of players.

The health situation with Chris Bosh remains unclear with Riley stating they remain hopeful the All-Star will be able to return following a health scare (blood clots) for the second consecutive year.

Riley said he remains optimistic about free agency and about building a winning team, "it's up to me to create change and those opportunities."

He kept referring to a free agency "whale."

Riley indicating he'd like to chase that great white free agent whale, much like Captain Ahab in the classic novel Moby Dick.

"You know we're always looking for a whale if there's one out there. We have the flexibility to do so," said Riley.

As for Goran Dragic, Riley said the point guard's excuse that he was getting settled in last year with his new team and his growing family no longer works.

Riley is expecting more production from Dragic, "his number one objective is to come back in October in better shape and a better player."