Sources have told ESPN’s Marc Stein that Rashard Lewis has verbally agreed to a maximum contract with the Orlando Magic, believed to be 5-years in length for between $75-$85 million. Lewis still has the opportunity to sign for more, if he were to rejoin the Seattle SuperSonics, or have the team agree to a sign and trade, but it appears that Lewis is prepared to leave without any help from his former employer.
Lewis joined Seattle during the 1998 draft, where he fell into the second round (#32 overall) while coming directly out of high school. The 6-10 forward is an electric scorer with range beyond the three-point line, but some have questions the other aspects of his game. Despite being just two inches shy of seven-feet, his best rebounding year was 2001-02 when he averaged 7.1 rebounds per game. His highest single block average for a season is 0.9 per game and he set a career high this past season with 2.4 assists per game. Nevertheless, the Magic see something in Lewis that they believe will take them to the next level.
Forming an inside-outside duo with Dwight Howard, an up-and-coming star in the NBA, Orlando will try to build on their playoff season of last year. However, with the signing of Lewis to a max deal, the Magic significantly open the door to Darko Milicic, who will probably be renounced and able to sign with any franchise as an unrestricted free agent. Milicic will likely garner a significant contract wherever he goes, as people continue to believe that he has the skills to live up to the expectations of being a #2 pick overall, especially in front of the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Lewis’ leaving also solidifies Kevin Durant as the face of the Seattle SuperSonics moving forward. Seattle spoke with Lewis and informed him of their intention to try to retain him to play alongside Durant, but it has become clear that Lewis had no desire to be the #2 man for the Sonics.