Riley responded on Thursday to trade rumors surrounding Miami’s young center, affirming that Whiteside will remain with the Heat.
“I can guarantee you there have been no discussions about the BS that you have read in the newspapers the last couple of days,” Riley said, reading rumors Whiteside could be dealt to Houston or Sacramento. “I like our team and I want to see where we’re headed.”
Part of the rationale surrounding a Whiteside trade is that he is set to become an unrestricted free agent and the Heat do not hold his Bird rights, so they will not be able to go over the salary cap to retain him. Currently leading the league in blocked shots, the 26-year-old 7-footer could command max money or close to it this summer. Whiteside is averaging 12.5 points, 10.6 rebounds and 3.9 blocks in 24 games.
Riley also said he was happy with the Heat’s current standing, fourth place in the East at 15–9, and that he thought Miami would be “for real” at the midway point of the season. He said that he didn’t think Miami needed to make an imminent deal.
“I don’t think you need to tinker with it,” Riley said of his current squad. “I don’t believe a lot of things I read about our team because I know we have it. We have that in us. And so, I like what Goran Dragic is doing. I love his aggressiveness and the fact that he’s really, really attacking. I think we’re finding his game and what he’s doing extremely well. Luol Deng is coming back from an injury. We have Josh McRoberts. We have a lot of great players, and I think as Coach brings them all together, I think this team can be very [formidable].”
- Jeremy Woo