Rashard Lewis began the season playing fairly well in Miami, perhaps even better than most expected. He was getting close to 20 minutes per game off the bench in the Heat’s first six games of the season, and filling in productively offensively in his time on the court.
But since Miami has been at full strength over the last few games, with Dwyane Wade and Mike Miller both returning from injury, Lewis has seen his minutes decline. And in the Heat’s previous two games, Lewis was unable to get off the bench at all — against Milwaukee he was said to be out due to illness, but against the Cavaliers, he ended up with the dreaded DNP-CD.
It’s unclear at this point whether this is just early-season lineup tinkering from Erik Spoelstra, or if the demotion might have longer-lasting effects. Either way, Lewis says he knew what he was signing up for when he came to Miami last summer.
Lewis, who said he was healthy Saturday, said he signed on in the offseason as a free agent aware of such possibilities.
“There’s a lot of talent on the bench, a lot of guys that can play any given night,” Lewis said. “So you’ve just always got to be ready when your name is called. And when your name’s not called, you’ve still got to be ready.”
Lewis said Spoelstra approached him about the shift.
“He said he’s going to change the lineup, the second unit for a little bit, trying to see what else he can do, work with some things, just be patient with him, just see what happens,” Lewis said.
It makes sense for Spoelstra to mix up his combinations to see exactly what he has during the course of the regular season, especially for a team that will need all of its depth on the way to a planned run back to the Finals.
Lewis has shown that he can contribute in Miami. He’ll just need to be patient before getting his next opportunity, which could come sooner rather than later if Shane Battier’s knee sprain turns out to be anything lingering.