According to Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix, the Heat are expected to pull out all the stops and woo him into joining Ray Allen as a new member of the team that plays in South Beach:
Right now the Heat are going all in on Rashard Lewis. He is No. 1 on Miami's list. Expect the VIP treatment for Lewis in meeting tomorrow— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) July 8, 2012
The name Rashard Lewis has become synonymous with the epidemic of overpaying for semi-stars in the modern NBA landscape.
Lewis is now thought of more as the former holder of the Washington Wizards' albatross than a two-time All-Star, although that perception may be justified due to his play in recent days. However, he now has a chance to redefine the end of his career.
Thanks to the trade that sent him to the New Orleans Hornets for Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor, as well as the subsequent contract buyout by the Hornets, Lewis is off the books and an unrestricted free agent.
Not only does that give the small forward a fresh start and an ability to pick a new team, but it also allows him to change fans' perceptions of his worth.
Lewis won't be signing any six-year, $118 million deals anymore. He's older and nowhere near the same player that he was when he inked that deal with the Orlando Magic in 2007.
If anything he'll be signing for as little as possible and just counting his lucky stars that he has another chance in the NBA.
With the Heat serving as the bona-fide front-runners in the race—please note the sarcasm—for Lewis' services, the small forward has a chance to experience a bit of a career resurgence.
Last season Lewis averaged 7.8 points, 1.0 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game with a PER of 9.37 (if you didn't just throw up in your mouth a little bit, you should probably read up on PER) for the Wizards in 28 games of action.
Now, he'll be 33 years old, leaving it unsurprising if he experiences even more of a decline for the 2012-2013 season.
That won't be the case if he signed for diddly squat with The James Gang.
If so it's not as though he'd be playing the role of LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers or even Udonis Haslem. And—if I may continue with my musical pun—he surely wouldn't be serving as Joe Walsh, Tom Kriss, Jimmy Fox, Dale Peters or Phil Giallambardo, either.
Lewis would be asked to fill a small role. He'd be expected to provide a scoring boost off the bench and grab the occasional rebound while playing solid defense.
No longer would he be the million-dollar man with the weight of the world on his shoulders.
While you might see his numbers fall ever so slightly as he bolsters the Heat's bench for a run at a repeat, you'd most likely see that PER skyrocket back to around the league average—or better.
Lewis isn't going to make the All-Star team ever again, and he'll go down in history as a great player who signed a terrible contract (not from his perspective of course).
If he's content to fill a spot on the bench, makes the most of his opportunities and provides a strong veteran presence in the locker room, he'd be a success with the Heat.
After years of failure and spots on lists of the most overpaid athletes, a little success is all he should be after.