Pat Riley says Hassan Whiteside is Heat’s ‘No. 1 priority’

Robert Duyos, USA Today Sports

The upcoming summer promises to be extremely busy for the Miami Heat and president Pat Riley.

Riley hopes that Chris Bosh will return to the court. He also wants to re-sign Luol Deng and Udonis Haslem.

Oh, and Riley must also deal with the free agency of the greatest Heat player of all time, Dwyane Wade.

Despite all these question marks, none of this takes precedence over Hassan Whiteside, who Riley clearly stated was the team’s top priority.

On one hand, calling Whiteside the top priority makes sense. After all, in two seasons with Miami, the guy has averaged better than 13 points per game while grabbing more than 11 rebounds and blocking north of three shots per night.

Even better, it appears that young big man has improved each season he’s been in Miami.

It is, however, surprising to see Riley publicly acknowledge that a player other than Dwyane Wade is the team’s top priority.

Wade is not only the most-important player in Heat basketball history, he remains an effective player. The future Hall of Fame guard is coming off of a season where he shot just under 46 percent from the field and averaged 19 points per game.

His totals were even better in the playoffs, where he averaged 21.4 points per game and shot better than 46 percent from the field.

Make no mistake. Even with all of that, Whiteside should be the team’s top priority. He’s seven years younger and doesn’t have anywhere near the wear and tear on his body. He’s also plays a position that’s a premium in the NBA.

Still, all the logic in the world doesn’t eliminate how good Wade currently is and how great he’s been for that franchise.

Hearing Riley say aloud that someone other than Wade is the team’s “No. 1 priority” may make complete sense, but it is surprising.