Signing Kevin Durant and retaining Hassan Whiteside remains Plan A for the Miami Heat as Free Agency opens this Friday at 12:01 a.m.

Enerbee-Bottle-WF-124x300“They want Whiteside and Durant,” Dan Le Batard said during the local hour of his radio show Monday. “They want both of them. That seems like a pipedream.

“They don’t believe [Whiteside] a max player is all I can tell you and they don’t want to pay him the max. Everything they’ve done for the last two years since LeBron left has been to get to here, into that room with Durant. Riley knows man. What is the best you can be with Hassan Whiteside? I don’t know exactly what Whiteside is but I know what he isn’t. He’s not the best player on a championship team. I know that. I’m not sure he’s the best player on a good team, on a contender and so you cant keep giving these max contracts to guys who aren’t Durant and LeBron. You cant have it be Dragic and the maybe with Bosh and Whiteside at a max… because Bosh cant either, by the way. Chris Bosh cannot be the best player on a contending team. He can be a great player but he cannot be the best player on a contending team.”

As for what happens if Pat Riley whiffs on Durant while deciding to part ways with Whiteside, Al Horford is the team’s backup plan.

“You’ve got a backup plan. Horford would love to be here. That’s the backup plan,” Le Batard said. “It’s not a great backup plan but it’s the backup plan. But you have a safety net on swinging big…”

I would disagree in calling Horford “not a great backup plan” because he’s an established two-way big in his prime (30) without a glaring weakness. Because of his shooting ability he could play next to Bosh or without and give the Heat a steady force in the middle. There’s also no worry about paying him $20 million, which is not the case with Whiteside.

His family has Miami ties and he played his college ball a few hours away in Gainesville.

If I’m Riley and Durant is off the table, the plan would be to convince Horford and Dwyane Wade to sign two-year deals with an opt-out after one to at least provide potential cap flexibility next summer when superstars like LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry, and possibly Durant (if he signs a one-and-one deal) become available. The Heat would have a solid roster on the fringe of contending without Bosh, and become a legit threat to LeBron and the Cavs if either Bosh is able to return and/or Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson take a leap.

As I’ve felt for a while now, Miami’s greatest chance at becoming a contender in a Durantless world is the development of its youth while retaining some cap flexibility going forward.