The real reason the Magic gave Lewis that huge deal
ORLANDO--When the Orlando Magic signed Rashard Lewis to a six-year, $118 million contract, many around the league felt they had lost their minds. But GM Otis Smith was quick to point out that Lewis is a quick, rangy scorer that will take pressure off Dwight Howard, and more importantly, his huge contract will provide much needed cap relief when it comes off the books in 2012.
“$23,790,000. How’s that for an expiring contract?” Smith smugly asked reporters yesterday. “That’s what we’re looking at in 2012. We’ll be able to do all kinds of stuff with that money. We’ll be able to sign one, maybe even two, high quality free agents. Hell, by then even Greg Oden might be available. Can you picture a front court of Greg Oden and Dwight Howard? Twin Towers, baby! Now who's laughing?”
The contract could also be used as a valuable trading chip, Smith noted.
“Every year you hear about these expiring contracts being moved for young talent,” he said. “When you have one as big as Rashard’s, the possibilities are endless. Of course, we would have to be willing to part with him in the last year of his deal to get something done, but I don’t think that will be a problem. A 33-year-old one-dimensional player who doesn’t play defense? See you later, pal! Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out. People will really see the wisdom of this deal when we exchange this useless old albatross for some exciting young talent.”
For Lewis, the deal represents a chance to join a talented young team that has the ability to contend in the east. He’s also relishing the opportunity to play with one of the best big man in the league in Dwight Howard.
“Anytime you can join a team that is young and ready to compete it’s a good thing,” said Lewis. “With Seattle, they were going with a rebuilding project and I didn't really fit in. Here they have Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, me, and a great coach in Stan Van Gundy. It’s a dream come true. Also, this is a ****load of money. Not to be crude, but wow. I never expected to get a deal like this. It just goes to show you that if you work hard and play the game the right way, some terribly misguided nutcase will drop $118 million in your lap.”
Ironically, Lewis’s mega-deal far surpassed that of Howard, the Magic’s franchise player, who signed a 5-year, $85 million contract one day after Lewis received his deal. However, the 21-year-old Howard said he’s not jealous of Lewis and looks forward to winning a championship with his new teammate.
“It’s cool, man. Rashard has been in the league a lot longer than I have,” said Howard. “It’s really not about the money for me anyway. It’s about winning a championship. People can make fun of us all they want, but in five years when we’ve won three or four titles, nobody will be making fun of us anymore. They will, however, be making fun of the Nets. How about that Vince Carter deal? Crazy, huh? That guy is horrible. I wouldn’t even want to acquire him as an expiring contract. I’d rather do without the cap space.”
But does the combination of Lewis and Howard make the Magic a true title contender? Some would say no, citing their lack of a pass-first point guard and another big man that can defend and rebound.
“They’ve improved, but I wouldn’t say they are a title contender,” said one Eastern Conference GM. “They’re still lacking in a lot of areas. That being said, they should be able to get to the second round of the playoffs if only because the east is so weak. Who’s going to be their competition? The Pistons are washed up, the Heat were washed up a year ago, and the Cavaliers are one Lebron James injury from being the Washington Generals. Take my word for it. I’m their general manager.”