Rashard Lewis gets the max. Is that right? Would you pay him the max? Is he worth it?
The issue is not always how good the player is but rather how the team's salary structure is and where the player fits. I believe if you have two max contract players you better be ready to be in the conference semi-finals each and every year. The Magic will have Howard and Lewis as their max contract players. I am not convinced that makes them a Conference semi-finalist. from that standpoint I wonder if this was the right move by the Magic.
On the other hand, Lewis will be a great help to Howard. The Magic offense last season was putrid, ranking 23rd in the NBA. This was largely because everything revolved around Howard and he isn't ready for that burden yet. Lewis will assist him greatly. His ability to handle to ball allows him to do everything offensively from running the pick and roll, to isolation or creating his own shot.
Howard struggled badly last year when he was double teamed. Lewis will help with that a good deal.
From a Sonics standpoint maybe Rashard was worth the max. With Allen out of the picture, Rashard would have been your one max player and with the collective bargaining agreement you wouldn't have to max out Durant for another four seasons. Therefore, inside the salary structure it might have been feasible.
How Lewis, Durant and Green would have all coexisted will never be answered. It is imperative for the future of the Sonics that nothing impedes the progress of Durant.
The other issue is whether or not Rashard is a max player talentwise. Rashard can get you 20 every night and most importantly gets you 20 every night rather than 14 one night and 28 the next. His consistency is what has elevated his game to the elite of the NBA. According to my offensive numbers he is the best offensive small forward in the NBA. That seems like a stretch, but let's see what happens when he is a number 1 option.
On a personal note, I have covered Rashard longer than any athlete I have ever covered in my career. It has been fantastic to watch him grow from the Houston teenager into a man. He will have his first child this off-season and embark upon a new challenge in Orlando. Rashard is a good guy who deserves good things. From day 1 with Dwane Casey and Nate he worked very hard at the craft and it allowed him to reach this day as a max player.
Regardless of whether or not everyone thinks he is a max player.