NBA Rumors: Rashard Lewis Is Final Piece for Miami Heat Title Defense

Stephen Babb@@StephenBabbFeatured ColumnistJuly 10, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 28:  Rashard Lewis #9 of the Washington Wizards and Derrick Brown #4 of the Charlotte Bobcats battle for a ball during their game at Time Warner Cable Arena on January 28, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Rashard Lewis' ability to make an impact has steadily declined over the last few seasons, but that doesn't mean he isn't exactly what the Miami Heat need.

According to Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix, the Heat have met with Lewis and appear to be making progress:

If [Lewis] signs with Miami—a source described his meeting with Heat officials on Sunday as going "very well"—there would be no pressure. Just make a few threes every night, Rashard. We'll take it from there.

Indeed, the long swingman's role needn't be an especially high-pressure one. As it is, he'll have to compete for playing time with the likes of LeBron James, Shane Battier and Mike Miller. Lewis will get his shots, but he won't need to take too many of them.

With James spending more time at power forward, Lewis will have the opportunity to play at small forward during stretches or otherwise play behind James and serve as a "spread 4."

The 6'10" shooter has never had great strength, but his length gives him the ability to guard a few bigs and get his hands on some rebounds.

He might not get more than 15-20 minutes a game in order to do so, but he will have a pretty good shot at a title.

The additions of Lewis and Ray Allen give Miami a formidable collection of perimeter shooters. Battier and Miller certainly had their moments during the postseason, but the Heat didn't have much of an outside game working for them until those NBA Finals.

Mario Chalmers has gotten pretty comfortable from that corner spot, but that's where Miami's range stopped.

The new additions give the Heat a weapon they really haven't had thus far.

They also give them insurance. Battier and Miller are getting on in years, and the risk of losing them to injury at the wrong time isn't acceptable for a team without replacements.

Lewis and Allen may not be examples of model health at the moment, but there should be enough working body parts between the four of these guys to surround James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with a supporting cast that can shoot.

More importantly, Lewis is as good a teammate as you could add. He never complained about his diminishing role in Washington, and he took the opportunity to serve as a mentor for an otherwise young team.

When you're playing out a six-year, $112 million contract, that's the least you can do.

Still, a lot of guys wouldn't.

The Heat are adding an important piece, both for his on-court specialty and his off-court stability.