The Heat, which drained a record-tying 14 three-pointers in its NBA Finals series-clinching victory last month, has emerged from the first week of free agency with a roster that’s now even more dangerous from distance.
Days after adding guard Ray Allen, the Heat on Tuesday secured a commitment from forward Rashard Lewis, who agreed to a two-year, $2.8 million contract with a player option for the second year.
And so, in five days, the Heat has added the NBA’s all-time three-point field goal leader in Allen, who has 2718 baskets from beyond the arc, and now Lewis, whose 1690 career threes rank fifth among active players.
Both fit splendidly into the Heat’s often-used strategy of spreading the floor and creating more space for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to operate.
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Lewis, who also considered the Hawks and Knicks, was impressed by the Heat’s presentation to him on Sunday and is determined to resurrect his career after two injury-plagued seasons.
He was willing to take the $1.35 million veteran’s minimum partly because he will collect $13.7 million from a buyout with New Orleans.
Lewis was limited to 57 games in 2010-11 and 28 games last season because of injuries, including soreness in his right knee and a bone bruise in his left knee.
He averaged just 7.8 points and 3.9 rebounds for Washington last season, shooting 38.5 percent from the field and 23.9 percent on threes (16 for 67).
Those numbers were well below his career averages of 16.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 45.4 percent shooting from the field and 38.8 percent from three-point range.
Drafted 32nd overall out of a Houston high school, Lewis spent his first nine seasons with Seattle (including five playing with Allen), his next 3 ½ with Orlando (which gave him a six-year, $118 million contract) and the past 1 ½ with Washington.
He was traded in June to New Orleans, which bought him out for $13.7 million.
An All-Star in 2004-05 and 2008-09, Lewis was suspended the first 10 games of the 2009-10 season for testing positive for a banned substance.
He figures to share power forward duties with Udonis Haslem, starting small forward LeBron James and Shane Battier, who started at power forward during much of the playoffs after playing mostly small forward during the regular season.
With the addition of Allen and Lewis, the Heat will have 13 players under contract.
The final two spots likely will go to a perimeter player (perhaps John Lucas III or Terrel Harris) and a center – either a veteran or a young prospect, with Jarvis Varnado and rookie Justin Hamilton among those in the mix.
The Heat cannot afford free agent center Chris Kaman. Kwame Brown could be an option if he doesn’t attract a better offer elsewhere.
The Heat can offer players only minimum contracts. But if Mike Miller is ruled out for next season because of a back injury, Miami can apply for a $2.9 million disabled player’s exception.
Forward Grant Hill reportedly is considering overtures from the Heat, Lakers and Thunder, but he likely would get more playing time in Los Angeles.
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Because the Heat did not make him a qualifying offer, Terrel Harris is an unrestricted, not a restricted, free agent. Though president Pat Riley said “we like him a lot,” Harris said Tuesday the Heat has “not really” indicated if it wants to keep him.
“I guess they’re evaluating me still,” Harris said after he and the Heat’s other summer-league players practiced at AmericanAirlines Arena in advance of five games in Las Vegas, beginning Sunday. “I want to stay here. I talked to coach [Erik] Spoelstra and Pat Riley, and I understand they like me as a player. I don’t sit here and stress about, ‘Am I going to be here or not?’ ”
Harris, 6-4, averaged 3.6 points in 22 games, shooting just 34.9 percent from the field (29 for 83) and 20.5 percent on three-pointers (8 for 39).
“We would like to see him improve his long-range shooting and play-making ability,” Riley said. “Can he handle the ball? Yes. Can he bring it up the court and enter us into an offensive set? Yes. Can he be a point guard? That would be a stretch. But I would play him as a scoring point guard if I had to.”
Harris said developing his point guard skills will be the summer priority.
“We won’t have him play point a lot, but we will have him handle so we’ll get the ball to him in the half-court offense and let him initiate some offense,” said Heat assistant David Fizdale, who is coaching the Heat’s summer-league team. “So if we wanted to play him with Dwyane and LeBron and no point guard, even though we know LeBron is really the point guard, T-Harris can enter some offense and get them off the ball a little.”
• Fizdale, on point guard Norris Cole: “We’re breeding Norris a different way. Norris is a hunter. We’re developing him to be an attacker. He’s going out to Vegas with the intent to destroy whoever he’s playing against. I don’t want him to ever think he has arrived to the point where he’s now being hunted. He has to stay hungry and play this summer like a guy that did not win a title.”