Whiteside announces he will return to Heat

Hassan Whiteside will return to the Miami Heat, he announced Friday on The Players’ Tribune.

“I’ve played on eight teams since college — from Reno to Sioux Falls to Sichuan, China,” Whiteside said in his post. “I am not ready for there to be a ninth.”

Entering the summer, Heat president Pat Riley repeatedly said bringing back Whiteside, 27, was the team’s top goal as the 7-foot center hit the open market in position to command a maximum deal worth up to $100 million over four years.

“He’s our No. 1 priority, period,” Riley said after of Whiteside, who averaged 14.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.7 blocks during the 2015-16 regular season. “He’s a game changer, and I don’t even think he’s reached his real ceiling in a couple of areas in his game.”

Whiteside, who earned just $990,000 in his second year with the Heat, is coming off a breakthrough season in which he led the NBA in blocked shots and also finished in the top five in rebounds and field goal shooting percentage. He finished third in voting for NBA defensive player of the year voting and was also selected as the third-team center on the league’s all-defensive team.

Whiteside sprained the MCL in his right knee in Game 3 of Miami’s second-round playoff loss to the Toronto Raptors and missed the final four games of the series.

Whiteside elected not to speak to reporters during exit interviews after the playoffs, but indicated wanted to remain in Miami and continue to help the Heat return to title contention.

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