With free agency starting at 12:01 a.m. tonight, Hassan Whiteside has scheduled meetings with the Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers in New York in the next 24 to 36 hours, and the Heat also very much remains in play for his services, according to someone with direct knowledge.
Whiteside has received interest from a bunch of teams, but to this point, he has agreed to meet with only two besides Miami: Dallas and Portland.
He met with Heat president Pat Riley a couple of weeks ago and is expected to meet again with Heat officials sometime over the next two days in New York, where Pat Riley will be to meet with Kevin Durant on Sunday.
One person who spoke to the Heat said there is growing sentiment internally to offer him a max deal (if Miami doesn't get Kevin Durant), even though some inside the Heat do not view him as a max player. But that is not definite and the Heat has been going back and forth on this.
UPDATE: The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowksi reports tonight that the Mavericks have emerged as the front-runner and the Heat has lost ground.
The Heat has told Whiteside it's very interested in keeping him but has a lot of moving parts to navigate through.
The Heat could offer Whiteside four years and $98 million. Other teams can offer four years and $94 million. Whiteside's first-year max would be $22 million if the cap settles at $94 million, as projected.
The Heat would love for Whiteside to wait until it has clarity on Durant, but Whiteside might not be willing to do that, according to an associate. Whiteside has not made a decision on that.
If Whiteside tells the Heat that he wants to make a decision before Miami has clarity on Durant, the Heat could then trade Goran Dragic and Josh McRoberts to create the necessary cap room to sign both Whiteside and Durant to max deals and give a respectable deal to Dwyane Wade. That scenario has been discussed internally but the Heat would not trade Dragic unless it is sure it is getting Durant and needs to open cap space for Durant, Whiteside and Wade.
But it's uncertain if the Heat would definitely do that if Whiteside wants a firm offer from the Heat before Durant makes a decision.
The Heat enters free agency with $42 million in space, not including cap holds for Wade or any of its unrestricted free agents. So Miami has the cap space to give Whiteside a max deal immediately if it wants.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is expected to make a strong presentation to Whiteside shortly after the midnight start of free agency. Dallas holds appeal to Whiteside.
And Portland also is intriguing to Whiteside because it has a strong young nucleus and elite backcourt that helped the Blazers advance to the second round of the playoffs last season.
But an associate of Whiteside cautioned that he still likes the Heat if Miami meets his financial expectations.
DOLPHINS TRAINING CAMP SCHEDULE
The Dolphins announced they will open training camp at 9 a.m. July 29, and with a new twist: The team is installing a canopy over the stands at its Nova Southeastern facility in Davie, giving fans additional shade and protection from rain.
A new area reserved for children 12 years old and younger will provide them with special access to get autographs from Dolphins players post practice. In addition, weekend practices will feature food trucks, inflatables and fun-filled games for fans and families.
The Dolphins also are lowering the fences on south and west side to create a more open environment. They also plan to hold as many practices as possible on the near field close to fans.
Tickets for the 12 open practices are free, but limited to 2,000 per day. Fans can reserve tickets by registering at Dolphins.com/TrainingCamp.
Free parking is available at the Nova Southeastern University LRITC garage, located near the intersection of University Drive and S.W. 30th Street, between Griffin Road and I-595. Access to this garage is off University Drive and S.W. 30th Street.
Here are the practices open to fans:
9 a.m. Friday, July 29
8:35 a.m. Saturday, July 30
8:35 a.m. Sunday, July 31
8:35 a.m. Monday, Aug. 1
9 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 4
8:35 a.m. Friday, Aug. 5
9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 8
8:35 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 9
8:35 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10
8:35 a.m. Monday, Aug. 15
8:35 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 16
8:35 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 17
Twitter: @flasportsbuzz... I have come off vacation for a couple days and will have more Heat news, plus Dolphins, Canes and Marlins later tonight.