NBA Free Agency 2012: Why Rashard Lewis Should Sign with the Miami Heat

Joshua J VannucciniSenior Analyst IIIJuly 3, 2012

NBA Free Agency 2012: Why Rashard Lewis Should Sign with the Miami Heat

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    As per NBA free-agency rumors, a number of players have been associated with the Miami Heat, including Rashard Lewis.

    Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel has reported contact from Miami, who are heavily favored to sign the former All-Star. Lewis has endured some hardship during the last few years, including a knee injury during last season that limited him to 28 games. However, He could be a great addition to the defending champions for the following reasons.

Versatility

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    The Miami Heat pride themselves on two things: their defense and their versatility. Almost every player on the roster is capable of moving up or down a spot in the rotation. This  creates mismatches for opponents, giving the Heat the upper hand on both ends of the floor.

    As seen in the NBA Finals, the power forward spot was filled by Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem, Shane Battier and LeBron James over the course of the game.

    Battier has been praised for his phenomenal three-point shooting the the Finals. His 57 percent shooting from deep was a huge difference maker in the series, and it came specifically from his versatility. He was able to play power forward, and received several open looks when Serge Ibaka's defense was focused on protecting the rim. 

    Lewis is versatile on his own. He stands 6'10" and weighs in at 230 lbs, and has the shooting touch of a guard. He shot a poor 23 percent from the three-point line last season. However, the Wizards were the NBA's third-worst three-point shooting team last season. They are a team predicated on athleticism and speed, neither of which Lewis possesses.

    It is not surprising that he struggled, and it is premature to rule out his shooting ability. A shooter never loses his touch, and placing Lewis in the right system could be just what he needs.

    A possible front court of Rashard Lewis and Chris Bosh would be an excellent rotation. The Heat were able to capture the Larry O'Brien trophy with Battier playing most of his time at power forward. Lewis does not have the defensive prowess of the aforementioned swingman, but his offensive role would be identical. 

    Do not forget that Lewis currently ranks eighth all-time for three-point field goals made in a career. Adding him to Miami's rotation would ensure wide-open looks to boost his percentage, and instill the confidence Lewis has lacked since being traded away by the Orlando Magic

Offense

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    The previous slide presented a possible scenario featuring Chris Bosh and Rashard Lewis in the front court. They have a similar playing style in that they both prefer to face-up against their opponent. It is for this reason that Rashard Lewis would slide right into the Miami Heat's rotation. 

    The Heat run a high number of pick-and-rolls and pick-and-pops over the course of the game, with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade as their usual ball handlers. Mario Chalmers occasionally runs this set, and has the ability to drive and finish inside. Nonetheless, these offensive plays work best when the big man can face-up. Bosh and Udonis Haslem both possess potent mid-range games, and are efficient in knocking it down. 

    Adding Rashard Lewis to this mix would give Miami another weapon in the offense. He would be in the same role, and would also hover along the three-point line, much like he did during his time in Orlando. Lewis can also run the floor and make those long distance shots on the fast break. 

Price

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    Despite Rashard Lewis's accomplishments, he is infamous for his huge contract. He agreed to a sign-and-trade deal from the Seattle SuperSonics to the Orlando Magic, equating to a six-year,  $118 million deal. Lewis was recently traded from the Wizards to the New Orleans Hornets, as they freed themselves from the equally poor contracts of Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza. 

    Rather than amnestying Lewis, the Hornets have opted to waive him. What this essentially means is that teams will now have seven days to claim him. The bids that any teams place are not equal to how much they will pay him, but rather to guarantee picking him up over other teams. 

    However, because Lewis was due to receive a guaranteed $13.7 million this season, it is highly unlikely any team will wish to take on his salary. After the seven-day waive period has passed, Lewis will become a free agent (although the Hornets will still have to pay the $13.7 million). 

    It is very likely Lewis will sign for the veteran's minimum, which is the only contract the Miami Heat can (and should) offer. Their mid-level exception should be reserved for Ray Allen or Jason Terry, to improve their back-court. 

    Signing Rashard Lewis is a low-risk, low-cost and possible high-reward scenario for the Heat. Joining a championship contender, and several of the hardest working players in the NBA, could be what is needed for Lewis needs to get back to his old self. 

Should the Miami Heat Consider Rashard Lewis?

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    It is for these reasons that Rashard Lewis signing with the Miami Heat is in the best interest for both. Miami gets a stretch forward who can provide offense, and Rashard Lewis receives another chance to play for a championship contender. 

    With James Jones possibly retiring (news via Shandel Richardson of The Sun Sentinel), and Mike Miller recovering from the latest of what seems to be an infinite number of injuries, having Rashard Lewis behind LeBron James is a great rotation.

    Lewis may not be the player he used to be, averaging 7.8 points and 3.9 rebounds this past season. However, those numbers would be excellent off the bench for Miami. Only time will tell if the Miami Heat will be Lewis's chance for redemption.