Looking Ahead: 4 Centers the Clippers Can Target in 2016

4 of 5

Hassan Whiteside (Miami Heat)

January 11, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) dunks to score a basket against the Los Angeles Clippers during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

In an early January matchup, the Clippers got an up-close-and-personal showing of Hassan Whiteside — 23 points, 16 rebounds, 2 blocks (see highlights below). We know how much Doc Rivers loves players who kill his team (Turkoglu, Mullens, etc.) and with ample cap space the Clippers have the salary cap to target the big man when he hits the open market in 2016.

The NBA’s biggest surprise in 2014-15, no player is in line to earn a bigger payday going into the summer of 2016 than Whiteside, who is set to earn less than $1 million in 2015-16 (to be exact, $981,348). Due to the historic anomaly that was Whiteside’s production, many don’t expect the fourth-year center to directly replicate 11.8 points, 10 rebounds, 2.6 blocks, and a PER of 26.2 while forcing opponents to shoot 46.5% at the rim. And rightfully so, but even if Whiteside manages to deliver 80% of what his ’14-15 output the center is positioned to collect an impressive amount of coin on the open market.

In regards to fit, it’s easy to see how Whiteside fits with the Clippers — he’s all of what Jordan gives you on the defensive end plus several traits many wish Jordan obtained on the offensive end (a nice touch around the basket). Given the recent development between Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan, one wonders how the oft-immature Whiteside would mesh with the Clippers’ lead guard, but with a handful of veterans around — players or coaches — you’d hope they’d be able to nullify such issues before they ever became a problem.

The biggest question of them all about this potential partnership will be if the Clippers can steal the Heat’s biggest treasure right under Pat Riley‘s nose. While the summer of 2016 doesn’t contain a jaw-dropping list of free agents, the biggest shark in the pond in Kevin Durant will have the world vying for his services, Pat Riley included. Maybe Durant and Wade, in an attempt to show Riley lives by loyalty, distracts Pay from giving full attention to Whiteside, forcing him elsewhere.

Who knows. One thing’s for sure: the Clippers won’t be the only team throwing big money at Whiteside if his excellent play bleeds into upcoming season.

Next: The 'Other' Indiana Center