MIAMI, Fla. — The Miami Heat's search for length and outside shooting in NBA free agency, combined with the team's lack of salary-cap resources, have led them to the doorstep of a late entry onto the market.
Forward Rashard Lewis, a 6-foot-10 3-point specialist who was limited to 28 games this past season by knee problems and waived over the weekend by the New Orleans Hornets, has attracted multiple overtures from the Heat amid the start of the NBA's free-agency period.
"I've talked to the Heat several times, and we'll continue to talk to them," agent Tony Dutt told the Sun Sentinel Monday. "We're just looking at all of the options at this point and we're going to sit down later in the week and figure out the top three or four spots that make sense and then he may visit those particular spots."
Even with free agency just beginning, with signings not allowed until July 11, the Heat appear to be a finalist for a player who has been part of a personnel whirlwind over the past two weeks.
On June 20, Lewis and the No. 46 overall pick in last Thursday's NBA Draft were dealt from the Washington Wizards to the Hornets in exchange for the forward Trevor Ariza and center Emeka Okafor. Lewis, who was entering the final season of a $118, six-year contract he had signed with the Orlando Magic, then received a $13.8 million buyout from the Hornets, who made the trade to clear long-term cap space. Lewis otherwise would have been due $22.1 million in 2012-13.
Because of Lewis' payoff from the Hornets, salary is not expected to be an overwhelming priority in free agency. That plays into the hands of the Heat, who are limited to bids of either the $3.1 million taxpayer mid-level exception or a veteran-minimum salary, an approach they likely would take with such a player coming off knee issues.
"Absolutely, he wants to be on a championship-contending team and he also wants to revamp his career and no question he will do that," Dutt said. "And probably, let's say he does a minimum or even the mid-level, he's got another contract in him. He's only 33. He takes care of himself."
Lewis went to the NBA Finals with the Magic in 2009 and then enjoyed another playoff run with the Magic in 2010, before his career stalled when traded to the Wizards early in December 2010.
"The right fit for him is just as important as anything," Dutt said.
Heat President Pat Riley said last week that outside shooting was among the team's priorities in free agency, in order to spread the court for the post game of forward Chris Bosh and the penetration games of forward LeBron James and guard Dwyane Wade. Riley also spoke of a desire to add length to his roster, which he would get with the addition of Lewis.
Dutt said the Heat's salary-cap limitations are not a concern.
"We're trying to combine and get the best value based on situation, based on opportunity, based on winning," he said. "So everything that the Heat have is a good fit. And there's two, three other situations that are probably equal to that that we're looking at."
The Heat opened free agency with Boston Celtics guard Ray Allen as a prime target, but Allen is said to have a standing offer from the Celtics at twice what the Heat could offer with their $3.1 million exception.
The Heat's perimeter game remains somewhat in flux, with forward Mike Miller, the 3-point star of the team's championship-clinching victory two weeks ago against the Oklahoma City Thunder, possibly facing offseason back surgery and Heat forward James Jones mulling retirement.
Lewis has averaged 16.1 points and 5.6 rebounds over his 14-season career, but just 7.8 points and 3.9 rebounds this past season.