Uh-oh. So, the Heat have a sticky situation coming up at the end of the 2015-2016 season. Their out-of-nowhere star Hassan Whiteside is going to be an unrestricted free agent come July 2016. That means the Heat cannot extend or lock him in anytime before this and when that time comes, the rest of the NBA will very much be in contention to bid on Whitside’s future.
In locking up Whiteside to a two-year deal that includes a non-guaranteed 2015-16 season at the NBA minimum, the Heat put themselves in position where they will have no choice but to allow the emerging center to become an unrestricted free agent in July 2016.
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.
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.