Rashard Lewis: You See Contractual Albatross, I See Potential Gold Mine

If I asked you who the highest paid player in the entire NBA is you’d probably rattle off answers like LeBron, Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose or the ghost of Gilbert Arenas’ contract. But no, in fact it is former Seattle SuperSonic great Rashard Lewis.

Yes, Rashard Lewis is being paid 22.7 million dollars next year. What makes it even more perplexing is that he plays for the Washington Wizards, a team that doesn’t really need him and should be angling every asset on their roster towards youth.

Which is what they might be doing with Lewis.

Maybe Ernie Grunfeld and friends were being smart when they didn’t use the amnesty provision on Lewis. Maybe they’ll look like complete geniuses for not doing it. After all, he could turn into the next Tracy McGrady.

T-Mac was dealt in a three-team mess with the Knicks and Kings from the Rockets to New York. Houston also gave up Carl Landry and Joey Dorsey and in return picked up Jordan Hill, a couple first round picks and the right to pay Jared Jeffries checks.

Not too bad right?

Now if you’re Washington, you already have a star player and team “Atlas” of sorts in John Wall. He’s the star; he’s the present and future face of the franchise.  You already have a very good center in this league in Nene. And you have a bunch of youth, which is never bad. Some of it will pan out and some of it won’t, but it’s better than trotting out declining vets with bloated contracts.

Going on my theory of throwing almost a dozen young players at the court and seeing which ones stick, it wouldn’t be bad if Washington had more of them to throw at the court.

Now, McGrady was moved to New York for the sole intent of clearing cap space to bring in a max free agent(s). Which ended up being Amare and money to throw at Carmelo after they were robbed by the Nuggets and left with Anthony. The point here is that Tracy McGrady was moved so the team could get under the cap so they could go after a max-contract free agent. It’s not as if there aren’t any potential big-name free agents hitting the market soon. Well, except some guy named Dwight Howard. Maybe you’ve heard of him.

Again the point is that normally teams wouldn’t go rushing out to get an overpaid player whose contract is north of 20 million as a rental, but that is something that might become a reality here.

The big, grand finale-ish, maybe-wrapping-up-point-but-probably-not is that the Wizards are in a prime position to move Lewis to a team who would like to clear cap space for Howard.

These would be teams like the Lakers, Mavericks and Nets.

LA isn’t going to do anything brash and dump Pau Gasol for Lewis, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see them pick him up for the sole purpose of clearing cap space. I’m sure LA would love to be rid of Metta World Peace, Josh “McBobs” McRoberts and Steve Blake’s collective contracts, however, the Wizards aren’t going to make that trade unless David Stern threatens to move them to Omaha. Again, a completely viable option. I would not put it past him. Next thing you know the Magic and Suns will be playing in the Dakotas. All because he likes “small markets”.

Dallas could conceivably deal Shawn Marion, Brendan Haywood and Vince Carter’s unguaranteed contract to Washington, though while Marion would help  Washington a lot at the 2 and 3 as well as providing… You know what? A John Wall, Nene, Marion, Jordan Crawford and Jan Vesely starting five would be pretty fun to watch.

The only thing that really prevents the previous trade from happening is Brendan Haywood’s supersized, bloated, terrible, overkill contract. Feel free to add any adjectives that I might have missed there. Maybe it could happen if the Wizards forced the Mavs to take Andray Blatche back. Not sure if Dallas would do that.

Another scenario, this assuming Lamar Odom’s contract isn’t bought out, sees Dallas moving Odom, Marion and Carter for Lewis. Not sure if the Mavs would sacrifice that much wing depth, but to Deron Williams or Dwight Howard, I’d do it.

The trade machine makes it a bit difficult to trade with the newly dubbed Brooklyn Nets seeing as almost all of their contracts are expiring.  Still, Lewis to New Jersey for anyone but Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Brook Lopez or Gerald Green makes sense. I realize that  I named almost half the roster there, still those guys are likely safe unless Howard comes to Brooklyn. In that case Lopez would be available.

The point here is that Rashard Lewis and his contract very well could be one of the more sought after commodities on the trade front. He’s gone from maybe the least desirable asset to maybe the most desirable one.

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