Tuesday, July 3

Lewis Gone

And with that, he was gone.

Rashard Lewis, having spent the first nine years of his career in Seattle, growing from a gangly high-schooler who only scored 47 points his rookie season to an All-Star small forward who became the most coveted free agent of the summer, is no longer a Seattle Supersonic. Lewis indicated to the Orlando Magic on Monday that he will sign a max-contract deal with the club on July 11, the first day free agents are allowed to sign on the dotted line (as reported by Marc Stein at espn.com).

It's an odd feeling, but not as odd as one might expect considering the length of his stay in town. In fact, I think most of us are less surprised to see Rashard leave than we were to see Ray Allen dealt a few days ago.

Lewis' departure has been speculated for months now, with Orlando being the most likely destination, and when the Magic declined to contact Darko Milicic about his impending contract negotiations, the writing was on the wall - the perennial also-rans were going strong for Lewis.

After dinner with club officials on Sunday, Lewis apparently made the agreement on Monday, and now the Sonics are left without a 22.4 ppg scorer, a player who always seemed to frustrate Sonic fans for what he didn't do, and never pleased us with what he did.

I was reading Harper's a month or two ago, and I came across this quote from E.M. Forster that he wrote in opposition to critics of his friend Samuel Coleridge, a poet who - like Lewis - never seemed to satisfy anyone:

"He seldom did what he or what others hoped, and posterity has marked him as her prey in consequence. She has never ceased to hold up her plump finger to him, and shake it and say that he has disappointed her ... But if one turns on posterity and says, 'Well! what else do you want him to ! Would you rather have Comberbacke as he is or not at all?' she is apt to be silent or to change the conversation."

It's an telling indictment of our relationship with Rashard Lewis. Lewis seldom received recognition for his scoring abilities, or his speed, or his passing, or anything else. Rather, he received criticism for his deficiencies - in rebounding, his defense, his lack of excitement on-court. He was not a leader, not a #1 player, and he never professed to be. Some will argue that in accepting a $15 million per year contract, Lewis should accept the responsibilities of a leader, and that's a fair argument.

But I would counter that what would you expect him to do? If the market will pay him $15 million every year for the next five years, should he turn it down? Would you?

No, Lewis will not be remembered for any great accomplishments in the won-loss column in Seattle, and that, ultimately, was what sealed his fate in this town. In the end, the 6'10" small forward left as he arrived, an unknown quantity with immense potential. Thanks for your efforts, Rashard; we're sorry it just never worked out.

20 comments:

Fer said...

Now that it looks almost certain that the Sonics will not have Rashard, this makes me question a bit whether or not we want to trade Ridnour/Wilcox? Because while it is certain that we will have a young team in the following years, having some sort of leadership and a person who has already put in some years developing in Seattle is important, especially in this first year. I think that with the lack of Allen/Lewis, the next best candidate would be Ridnour. He has struggled at times for sure, but he has also given a few great glimpses of what he is capable of, and perhaps with Lewis/Allen gone he will be ready to step up and help fill the leadership/experience role that has been left vacant.

Howard U said...

Wow, a bit harsh don't you think?
I mean, the guy did give the Sonics nine good years, including an extension.
Also, can't blame him for his decision. Given that:
- His current team traded away their best player.
- His current team drafte a superstar at his position
- His current team may or may not be relocating.
- The fans of his home team never really appreciated him for the player that he is.
This is in no way an A-Rod type situation.

Yeah, he may not be a #1 player. But you know what? He may be the Best #2 player in the league. That's gotta count for something.

Nuss said...

I think you misunderstood what I wrote. I'm not criticizing Rashard at all; if anything, I'm criticizing Sonic fans for not giving Lewis his due.

Rashard was a very good player for the Sonics and one of the greatest players in team history. He averaged 20+ points a game for 3 straight years, would have made the all-star team for two consecutive seasons if he hadn't gotten hurt this year, and generally was there with the X-Man, Chambers and Detlef Schrempf as the best small forwards in team history (hard to say what X was; he was a power forward in a small forward's body, I guess).

No, I don't blame Rashard at all for leaving.

mcwalter44 said...

Nuss,

Great post and thanks for the quote, it was refreshing to read it. Anyways, I think Rashard leaving was obvious from the day that he switched agents. However, what is most shocking is the Magic spending 15 million per year on him, perhaps even agreeing rework Howard's contract (which has been rumored for a month now) and subsequently letting Darko go for nothing (essential wasting the pick that Detroit used to draft Stuckey). It just seems like bad business on Orlando's part. Unless they're working on a S/T with Seattle to take on a few lesser players so that they can keep Darko at 6.8 million this season. The fact that they haven't even contacted him leads me to the believe they're just going to let him walk.

If Orlando lets Darko, perhaps the Sonics should make an offer to him. Perhaps we could get him for around the 8 to 9 million dollar range? then again, I'm all for taking a step back and looking for valve from the bottom tier of the FA. To that end, perhaps it's time bring back Desmond Mason. As Hollinger says: "he was the team's best defensive player a season ago. He can defend both the shooting guard and small forward spot, but is better off against shooting guards since bigger forwards can shoot over him." Sure he's a streaky scoring, but he would fit Presti's focus on defensive minded players. He made 8.4 million last season, but it's expect that he'll be signed for closer to 5 or 6 million per season. He knows the area, and Bennett would sign off on it because Mason was Oklahoma ties. Perhaps, he could be missing link to fill out the Sonics rotation.

Envision if you would:
PG - West/Ridnour
SG - Mason/Gerabale/Szcrzebiak
SF - Durant/Wilkens
PF - Green/Wilcox
C - Colison/Swift

That would be an adequate 11 man grouping that you could mix and match based on match ups. Other than Ridnour and Swift you have a bunch of guys you can play two or even three different positions. Even without Mason you have solid 10 man group that will improve on the Sonics 31 win season, granted in the West they'd be hard pressed to get to 40 wins, but I think 35 to 36 isn't out of the question and considering 40 got the Warriors into the playoffs it's too far off to think they could make a run if Durant turns out to be the monster that everyone thinks he will be. However, we can't even begin to talk about number of wins until see who the Sonics hire as head coach. If it's Casey, then I stand with my prediction, if it's PJ then I think we're taking a step back and looking more like his GS teams clocking in the upper 20s in wins.

Nuss said...

I REALLY think Wilcox and Ridnour will be gone this summer. The way Presti keeps mentioning defense and the ability to guard multiple positions makes me believe that Frodo and Wilcox just do not fit in.

Keep in mind, too, that Presti is not building this team for next year alone. He has to keep in mind next summer, and what potential free agents will be available. By signing Mason now, does that make it more difficult to go after Player X next June? Those kind of decisions are the type which none of us are really privy to, but it's those kind of decisions that make great teams. Presti is in the enviable position of being the darling of his boss, which means he has the leeway to think in the long-term, something that Rick Sund never had (not that it kept him from drafting 3 TEENAGED CENTERS IN 3 YEARS ... oh, never mind).

I think Collison would fit nicely as the reserve PF/C, and that Wilcox is extraneous to this roster. If you figure on this minute breakdown of the power forwards and centers:

Durant: 30
Green: 25
Swift: 25
Collison: 25
Gelabale: 10-15
Wilkins: 10-15
Sene/Petro: 10

That just about takes up all the minutes you've got for the 3-4-5 positions.

That said, I like idea of adding Mason. Not sure how Wally World would feel about it, because D-Mase's minutes would come right out of his pocket...

Gabe said...

Mason would be a decent SG stopgap, but I doubt Presti will do it. He was a MAJOR favorite of Howard Schultz's (remember, he almost didnt make the GP-Ray trade because he was so personally fond of Desmond, and even bought his paintings), and Presti seems to be going out of his way to do away with reminders of the previous administration. Also, as scoring (especially outside scoring except for Wally and Durant) will now be somewhat of an issue for this team, it doesnt make sense to have a starting SG without a J.

Steve said...

I would love to have mason back. I think everyone in Seattle would. However, I just don't think he's a good option.

I think we are going to have to wait until next year to sign a really good free agent.

Chris said...

I'm definately gonna miss Rashard. He was the last remnant of the Payton/Karl era even if he wasn't a big part of it. It would be nice to have mason back but like gabe said, having a sg without a j doesn't make much sense so I don't see it happening. At least Rashard left as the franchises leader in 3 pointers made. He did take that record right?

Nuss said...

You're right, Chris. He had some other records as well, but I can't seem to find the records anywhere on the internet. Baseball-reference.com has a leaderboard for career stats on all the teams, but the two similar basketball sites don't. Anyone have an idea where I might turn that up?

Anonymous said...

Shard got a max deal..from his POV, he accomplished exactly what he needed to do this off season..got maximum value for himself..I am glad for him..Is he worth max money? Probably not but he found a taker so that is wonderful for him and his family. Wish him luck.

We should've known this was coming when the reported meeting with Shard and Doogie(Presti) did not result in some kind of a offer (Whether it was below market or not). In hindsight, the meeting was most likely not about resigning him but rather a opportunity for Doogie to beg for a chance to S&T when Shard does agree with a team, so that Doogie can get something back in return for letting Shard walk.

I am glad this is blowing up in his face..I do not think Doogie has any idea what he is doing. I am not buying all his double talk, rhetoric and cliches. Some of you who keep saying what a genius he is need to replay all of the interviews that Doogie has done since coming to town and listen carefully, there is nothing of substance in any of them, its all very broad, general comments sprinkled with sports cliches that we've come to love.

mcwalter44 said...

Hey ANONYMOUS COWARD, if you're going to make up bullshit nicknames and dog the moves of the new GM then grow some balls and post your name.

Paul Merrill said...

Yeah, it would really be smart for Presti to come out and tell everyone exactly what he's planning to do. Don't you think this would give other teams a bit of an advantage?

I'm as negative as the next guy, but Jesus Christ, he's only had the job for a month--give 'em a freakin' break!

seattle98199 said...

LOL..ok mcwalter44..didnt feel very much like making another account since I do not use gmail/blogger but whatever you say..happy now..LOL..

chunks brother said...

i don't see how anyone can pass judgement on Presti at this point being that the Sonics haven't played a single game with its new talent and I hardly think we're done making roster moves. either way, it's going to require patience to understand what his moves mean to this team in the long run. sure, it might blow up in his face, but then again, if it doesn't and he ends up looking like a genius, i'm sure all the fairweather fans will be back on the bandwagon right?

Anyways, what are the latest rumors on whom the Sonics are looking to acquire at this time? I'm not seeing a whole lot of info out there that isn't already old news...

Ben Q. Rock said...

Guys, I wanted to get your opinion on this trade a sports-radio personality here in Orlando proposed:

Carlos Arroyo, Keyon Dooling, and Pat Garrity for Rashard Lewis and Earl Watson.

The three players you'd receive have expiring contracts totaling ~$10 million, which enables you to be a presence in free-agency next summer, when Elton Brand, Jermaine O'Neal, Shawn Marion, and other superstars will be available.

We'd receive Lewis with his six-year deal. Watson may be overpaid over three years, but his salary would put us back under the cap and give us enough room to re-sign Darko.

It seems pretty one-sided, I know. But I imagine you guys would love to add a big-name free agent to the Durant/Green core.

Again, this trade wasn't my idea; it was a radio guy in Orlando who suggested it.

What are your thoughts?

Sonics Man said...

Lets bring Gary Payton back for one more season!!

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Chris said...

Ben, Honestly I don't like the trade much. It looks to me like you're saying we're just trading for expiring contracts to give us the cap room we would have had by letting rashard walk anyway. i do think either earl or luke has to go since neither of them like backing the other up so that is really the only thing I like about the trade.

mcwalter44 said...

I would do that trade in a heart beat. Considering Lewis is gone no mater what and it would cost us roughly 4.25 million more towards this season salary cap to get out of another 12.75 million that is owe Watson after the 07-08 season ends. As for going after big FA in the summer of 2008, that deal would only help towards 6.2 million extra spending dollars. Although the Sonics do have several player that either have team or player options after the 07-08 season ends (according hoopshype.com).

They are as follows:
Wilkens - Player Option - 3.1 million
Swift - Qualifying offer/restrict FA - 3.6 million
Sene - Team Option - 2.2 million
West - Qualifying offer/restrict FA - 2.7 million
Petro - Team Option - 1.9 million
Gelabale - Unrestricted FA

That's 13.5 million that could be cleared, plus the potential 6.2 from Watson not being on the roster that makes for just under 20 million. Technically they would have 28.3 not including contacts that will be given to Durant Green, which I guess would be around 6 to 8 million total for the two of them. I would guess that Swift, Gelabale and West would eat up at least 15 million, if not all 20 million of the that saved cap space.

Although it sounds sweet. Don't get to excited by this. The real opening will be in Summer 2009. When the Seattle Supersonics will hit it big in free agency after Wally and Wilcox's contracts expire and as they get ready to move to the house that Durant built in SEATTLE. Crap I better stop day dreaming....

Nuss said...

From what I understand the Orlando deal is pretty much done anyways, and the Sonics won't be taking part in any sign and trades.

In a weird sort of way, Rashard might be better off going with a 5-year deal than a 6-year deal. Let me explain.

At the end of a 5-year deal, Lewis will be 32 years old (his birthday is in August). I'd be willing to bet that as a 32-year-old in 2011, he'd be much more likely to receive a 3-year deal for $10 or so a year than he would as a 33-year-old. Maybe when he's 33, all he can get is a mid-level exception (or whatever they call it in 2011; is it crazy to think about deals with 2011 involved or what?).

It's a funny thought, but maybe Rashard's better taking the year less of security for a chance for more money down the road.

Also, I think the Sonics are better off packaging Watson/Wilcox or Ridnour/Wilcox to get something they need. Sorry, Ben, I think you're stuck with all those contracts. Maybe the Magic can use them to get a free agent next year; after all just because you're stuck with Darko doesn't mean you have to re-sign him. Sometimes the best deal is the one you don't make.

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