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Heat unable to extend Whiteside’s contract, will become unrestricted free agent in '16

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The Heat will have to bid for Hassan Whiteside's services in the summer of 2016 when he's an unrestricted free agent.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

When the Miami Heat signed Hassan Whiteside to a two-year deal at the NBA minimum they put themselves in a position where they will have to bid for his services as an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2016.

Whiteside made a name for himself in January by going on a tear and breaking franchise records. He's no longer just another name to fill the roster and the rest of the NBA has undoubtedly taken notice.

So why can't the Heat sign their young center to an extension?

According to Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel:

Under NBA rules, contracts shorter than four years in length, such as Whiteside's, cannot be extended.

The only way for the Heat to offer Whiteside a new contract after this season would be to waive the final year on his contract. However, because Whiteside is only signed for the league minimum next season, any and every other team could (and assuredly would) put in a claim.

In addition, because of the two seasons Whiteside previously spent with the Sacramento Kings, he would become an unrestricted free agent in 2016, as opposed to if these next two seasons with the Heat were his lone NBA tenure, in which case the Heat would have the right to match outside offers.

Because Whiteside will enter 2016 free agency with only two seasons with the Heat, he would not be eligible for full Larry Bird Rights, where the Heat could go over the salary cap up to the NBA maximum to retain him. Instead, if the Heat do not have the necessary cap space in the 2016 offseason (which they are expected to have), they only could offer Whiteside a contract starting at the NBA's average salary for 2016-17.

Also worth noting, the summer of 2016 will include a class of superstar free agents such as Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis to name a few and it's been no secret that Pat Riley has his eyes set on making another big splash in free agency to solidify his legacy as an NBA executive, so the Heat would have to stash some cap space if they want to keep Whiteside.

The kid is going to get paid, let's just hope it's in Miami.