Offense option number one for the Orlando Magic — throw it to the best center on the planet. Option two, Vince Carter. Option three: Jameer Nelson (options two and three can switch, depending on matchups and time of the game).
Option number four: Rashard Lewis. The guy making a team high $18.7 million this year (and more than $20 million for the following three). That is a lot of green for a guy getting 10 shots a game, ones other players create for him. The reason Lewis has fallen down the pecking order is his once feared shot (remember him with Seattle, it was pure) has gone on walkabout. He is shooting 32% from three in the last 10 Magic games, just 40% overall.
If your role in the offense is to pull an opposing big out to the three-point line to guard you, then making that shot is imperative. FanHouse has the money quote.
“Rashard is just not playing well right now. It’s not just the shooting. He’s not rebounding the ball. He’s just not playing with much energy,” said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. “He’s turning the ball over. He’s not making the shots he’s taking. I have confidence he’ll bounce back, but right now he’s not playing well.”
Well, that’s pretty damning.
And Rashard Lewis is… fine with that.
“I’m comfortable in the offense now. Our first option is Dwight (Howard). Vince and Jameer have been playing great. As we get closer to the playoffs, I’ll have to get myself more involved. If plays aren’t called (for me), I better find ways to contribute more. It would have helped tonight (in the loss to the Bobcats)…
“There is no frustration when you’re winning,” he said. “If you win, you don’t worry. I’m not getting as many shots, but it doesn’t matter now. If you lose, that’s when there is going to be frustration, that’s when you need to look at yourself in the mirror.”
Lewis is the link teams will try to exploit in the playoffs now. He’ll be given his shot until he makes the opponent pay. They will go at him on defense. On one of the best rosters in the NBA, he is now the target.
We’ll see how fine with that he becomes. We’ll see how frustrating that gets — especially after a couple of losses.