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Rashard Lewis: Don’t blame me for signing a huge contract

Sep 13, 2011, 1:38 PM EDT

Rashard Lewis Wizards Getty Images

Massive guaranteed contracts are one of the real touch points of this lockout.

Fans and owners can say it’s not fair their team has to pay Eddy Curry or Gilbert Arenas when they are not pulling their weight (or even playing at all).

Rashard Lewis has one of those contracts. The Sonics signed him to a massive deal and next year he’ll be the second-highest paid player in the NBA (behind Kobe Bryant). He was an All-Star but hasn’t been for three years now and is coming off knee surgery. While he still has some value as a stretch four, he’s not the same player he once was (and was never worth the money given).

But Lewis (talking with J.A. Adande of ESPN) wants you to answer a question:

“You sign me to a deal, you think I’m going to say, ‘No, I deserve $50 [million] instead of $80 [million]?’ I’m like, ‘Hell, yeah.’ I’m not going to turn it down. You can’t blame the players. If anything, we don’t negotiate the deal. We’ve got agents that negotiate the deals with the team. Y’all need to go talk to the teams and the agents.”

He’s right. To a point. Make no mistake, one of the things the owners want in this new Collective Bargaining Agreement is protection from themselves. They want a get out of jail free card on their mistakes, they want to be able to buy out deals they don’t like. Deals like Lewis got. Most fans want that, too — they want their team to be able to rebuild more quickly.

Also know that that Lewis’ contract does not change the underlying economics of the league — 57 percent of Basketball Related Income went to the players in the old CBA. Every year. If Lewis did not have this contract, that money would go to the players in another way (last season the owners had to write supplemental checks because league-wide salaries fell short of 57 percent).

Lewis’ contract is not why we have an NBA lockout. But it’s something the owners want to change. Just don’t blame Lewis for signing the deal.

  1. skyboxtalk - Sep 13, 2011 at 2:30 PM

    the magic signed him to that contract…not the Sonics…

    • blueintown - Sep 13, 2011 at 8:04 PM


  2. cosanostra71 - Sep 13, 2011 at 2:30 PM

    1st off, the Sonics didn’t sign him to that contract. He was going to sign with the Magic and they did a sign-and-trade to get some value back (I believe in the form of a trade exception). Like the Cavs/Heat did with LeBron.

    2nd off, while you can’t blame him for signing that contract, you can blame him for not living up to it. In most every other profession, if you are not performing at the level your salary demands, you are fired.

    • david8726 - Sep 13, 2011 at 7:23 PM

      I don’t think it’s fair to blame Lewis for not “living up to his contract” when Orlando willingly gave max money to a guy who obviously didn’t have max-money skills.

      If you choose to overpay someone who you should know can’t live up to the money you’ve given them, the only person you have to blame is yourself.

      Lewis has always been a borderline all-star player. He’s a guy who should have been given a contract worth 10-12 million dollars a year. Any clear thinking person should have been able to see that Lewis wouldn’t magically start playing like a max-player just because you’re giving him a max-deal.

      But Orlando gave him that huge contract anyway, ignoring all common sense.

      Lewis took the money because that’s what anyone would have done. All an athlete can do is play the game as hard as he can and sign the biggest deal that comes his way. He doesn’t set the market for his talents…… the owners do.

  3. blueintown - Sep 13, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    If it was a sign-and-trade, that means he did sign with the Sonics.

    • cosanostra71 - Sep 13, 2011 at 4:38 PM

      Did LeBron sign with the Heat? Did Grant Hill sign with the Pistons?

      • blueintown - Sep 13, 2011 at 5:03 PM

        No. Yes.

  4. therealhtj - Sep 13, 2011 at 7:51 PM

    Don’t blame the owners for standing pat in CBA negotiations to be certain they have some kind of out from making idiot signings like Lewis.

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