Saturday , May , 26 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Rashard Lewis Opts Out Of Contract With Sonics, Seattle Should Not Re-Sign Him

Rashard Lewis has exercised the clause on his contract with the Seattle Sonics … The talented small forward is now a free agent … Should Seattle re-sign their small forward to a massive extension or let him walk? … Click here to find out why the Sonics should pass on offering a Lewis a new deal …

wants to test the free agent market.

On Friday, second leading scorer became a free agent by exercising the option clause on the last two years of his contract.

Lewis, who averaged 22.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, officially becomes a free agent on July 1st.

Seattle may try to re-sign Lewis. And the terms of the collective bargaining agreement provides the Sonics with an advantage over other teams: they can offer Lewis the longest contract at six years.

My Take:
Clay Bennett, Seattle’s owner, should book Lewis a plane ticket out-of-town. Lenny Wilkins, the Sonics front-office exec, should drive him to the airport.  , Seattle’s franchise stud, should say  “Sayonara”  to R-Lewis.

Let’s be clear: Lewis is a super-talented small forward. He’s a phenomenal athlete and has amazing range on his outside shot. He posts great numbers and makes the highlights with his explosiveness.

But here’s why Seattle should pass on giving Lewis a monster extension:

1) The NBA is a results-oriented business. What have the Sonics accomplished with Lewis as their second-in-command? One season, they made the second round and pushed the Spurs to six games.

But that’s it. Lewis isn’t totally at fault here. Seattle, as tenants-only in Key Arena, can’t generate the revenue to sign talented players. Still, the small forward hasn’t done enough in the playoffs to justify a massive extension.

Consider how the NBA’s top teams compensate players. The Pistons pay fairly, but nobody’s overpaid. The Spurs rarely have a poor contract sitting on the books.

Lewis is a talented player. However, the Sonics must realize he’s not worth a mega-contract.

2) There have been questions about Lewis’ character. Some coaches believe he’s too nice and a touch soft.

Others, like former Sonics’ owner Howard Schultz, saw him as moody.  For example, a few years back, Schultz personally met with the forward and his agent to negotiate Lewis’ current 11 million dollar a year contract.

According to Schultz, Lewis sat on a couch and didn’t say a word to him. He was dead silent. He didn’t acknowledge or even look at the team’s owner.

Schultz is far from perfect. And I’ve heard of firm bargaining tactics. But Lewis’ behavior was bizarre.

3) Seattle’s three-spot now belongs to . The Sonics struggled with Lewis as their small-forward. It’s time to re-brand Seattle as Durant’s team, so they can convince politicians to pay for a new arena and stick it out in the Emerald City.

Click here to read and subscribe to Oly Sandor’s NBA blog.