Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat welcomed Rashard Lewis to the team Wednesday, the first official day free agents could sign a new contract with teams.
Lewis, a 14-year-veteran that stands 6’10”, said he is willing to “do whatever the coaching staff wants me to do.” He said whatever the role the team has for him, he’s more than willing to do to the best of his ability.
“Most definitely, I’m hungry just to win,” Lewis said. “Obviously, the ball can’t bounce forever. You guys can see the gray hair.”
For his career, Lewis has averaged 16.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, and shoots 45 percent from the field and 39 percent from behind the 3-point line.
When asked what he thought he could bring to the Heat Lewis said, “I think I can bring, open it up for them (the Big Three) a little bit in the paint.”
Part of the story of the rebuilt Heat over the last three years has been the role of team president Pat Riley. The legendary executive and coach has become the NBA’s ultimate recruiter as he has landed LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Shane Battier, Lewis, and Ray Allen.
“I just mention LeBron, Chris and Dwyane and then take it from there,” Riley said jokingly of his pitch. “If we could, and had the ability to pay all the players, really what they could get on the open market; we would. They know coming in what the situation is and I really believe they come in here because they want to see a winner. These men want to make a choice and their choice is to go where we want to go.”
Riley continued, “I think we have built a team that players want to play for. It isn’t me. It’s the whole platform.”
One side story of the signing of Lewis and Allen is that both men used to play for the Seattle Supersonics, which later became the Oklahoma City Thunder. Lewis said having Allen agree to join the Heat helped him to make his decision.
“Me and Ray are real close,” Lewis said. “We played for a number of years in Seattle. He helped me get to my first All-Star game. Just reconnecting with him, we’re both excited. Over the years, we have kept a good relationship.”
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said he already has his coaching staff is working on plans for incorporating Lewis into the offense.
“We’re excited about all the possibilities,” Spoelstra said. “The professionalism. He’s a winner. Three years ago, I don’t think any of us could have imagined this. It’s the versatility (of Lewis). The more we can become positionless; the more we exciting we could be.”
That thought is sending shivers up and down the spines of opposing coaches across the NBA.