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Whiteside: Portland was my second choice in free agency

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

This past summer, Whiteside was one of the most coveted free agents on the market. Before making his decision to remain in Miami, the center met with Pat Riley and Mark Cuban in the first few hours of free agency. It was originally thought by many that it was a two team race between Miami and Dallas for his services. However, that wasn't the case.

According to Whiteside, the Portland TrailBlazers were also in the running. Not only were they in the running, they were actually Whiteside's second choice in free agency. 

“Portland was my second option,” Whiteside told Erik Gundersen for the Miami Herald at the team’s Saturday shootaround in Portland. “I would have came here.”

Whiteside's comments were very surprising considering Portland was never mentioned as a serious destination by anyone. 

Like Dallas and Miami, Portand also had enough cap space to sign Whiteside. In addition to Whiteside, the TrailBlazers also made a run after Dwight Howard. Once both centers were off the market, the Blazers spent the rest of their money on signing Evan Turner, Fetus Ezeli, as well as re-signing their own free agents.

In the first year of his new deal with the Heat, Whiteside is averaging 17.8 points and a league-leading 14.9 rebounds, as well as 2.6 blocks per game.

Thoughts on HEAT vs Blazers

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

- Another close game.

-Heat ended up running out of gas in the end. Especially Goran Dragic who played at a fast pace all night long.

-However, going back to Miami after a 2-1 road trip isn't too bad. Especially with all the injuries the Heat have dealt with.

-Another game and another new lineup for the Heat. This time because of the injury that has Luke Babbitt sidelined.

-Derrick Williams was back after sitting out the Jazz game with the back spasms.

-Great offensive start for Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside showed a range of moves, including a 16-foot turnaround bank shot. He was 7 for 7 on his shots in the first half.

-He looked very energized tonight. 

-Heat guard Goran Dragic was in attack mode throughout the game. After every miss, he was pushing the ball up the court.

-Overall, it was a good first quarter for the Heat, who shot 62 percent. They also held Portland to 39 percent.

-With Dragic and Whiteside on the bench, the Heat's offense went downhill in the beginning minutes of the second quarter. There was no ball movement and guys were just standing around.

-Pretty rough first half for Tyler Johnson who kept getting hit without any calls. Him and Coach Spo picked up technical fouls after arguing about the lack of calls.

-James Johnson got ejected after picking up his second technical foul. Like Spo and TJ, he also was frustrated about the lack of calls.

-Josh McRoberts making shots? Yep. He make a couple of them tonight. And had another season high in two straight games.

-It's great to see him get more aggressive. This is what the Heat want to see from him.

-Whiteside ended up playing the whole second half.

-Next up, the New York Knicks on Tuesday in Miami.

Whiteside 'excited' about Riley's vision for him

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Back in early November, Heat president Pat Riley told David Aldridge in an interview on that he envisions the Heat running it's offense through Hassan Whiteside in a year or two.

"I’m telling you, within a year, we’re going to be running a lot of offense through this guy, said Riley. "He’s never had that kind of pressure on him.” 

When told about Riley's plans for him, Whiteside said he was excited.

“That would be very exciting,” Whiteside said, via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. “I'm going to keep getting better at it. I'm fine with my passing. I'm learning. Guys are learning to make cuts.”

Passing remains a major weakness in Whiteside's game. Of players who play at least 30 minutes, Whiteside averages the sixth fewest passes in the league. He's also had games where he's not been getting as many touches. And that falls on his teammates, who have to do a better job of finding him.

Like Whiteside mentioned earlier, he's still learning. This is a new situation for him. He's played his first two seasons alongside two all-stars who commanded a lot of attention from opposing defenses. With both stars gone, he's been receiving a lot more responsibilities than he has in the past. As the number one guy, he has to adjust to having defenses focused on him every night. 

Its going to be an ongoing process which is why Riley said give it a year. We'll see how much he improves as the season goes on.