AT&T Center – Almost a year ago in early July, Miami Heat forward Rashard Lewis was a free agent and searching for a championship contender to sign with. Before signing with the Heat, Lewis was rumored to be in talks with the Los Angeles Lakers, Heat, Atlanta Hawks, and the team he’s down 2-1 against in the NBA Finals, the San Antonio Spurs.
On Wednesday at the Heat media session before the team practiced, I caught up with Lewis and asked him if the Spurs were really a team he was interested in and I also asked him about his thoughts on the Spurs’ young perimeter players who are making a name for themselves on the biggest stage in basketball, Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard.
First, Lewis told me that signing with the Spurs was an option.
“We did (have communication),” Lewis said. “I didn’t necessarily talk to them. I think there was some talks with my agent and I think T.J. Ford came down. I think they kind of talked about it for a little bit.”
“It most definitely was an option because my whole focus was trying to compete for a championship,” continued Lewis. “When you look at all those teams trying to compete, the Spurs was one of those teams.”
I then asked Lewis about the growth he’s seeing in Leonard, who is only 21 years old and is averaging a double-double (11 points, 12 rebounds) three games into the NBA Finals.
“A talented guy,” said Lewis of Leonard. “His game has really improved. He’s always been athletic, a slasher, (and) plays around the rim. But when he starts knocking down that 3-point shot it completes the game almost and when he’s knocking that ball down as athletic as he is, his ability to get the rim is at his advantage.”
“I think he’s most definitely improved from last year to this year.”
Finally, with Lewis having the privilege of playing with a great shooter in Ray Allen multiple times in his career, I asked for his thoughts on Green, who helped put the Spurs in the record books Tuesday as they knocked down an NBA Finals record 16 three pointers.
“He can shoot the hell out of the ball,” said Lewis of Green. “I mean we saw that last night."
“He’s a smart player and they’ve got good players on their team as in Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, as well as (Manu) Ginobili,” continued Lewis, “they create those shots for those guys.”
Lewis’ remarks on Green were quite accurate as Green is shooting almost 70% from 3-point range and leading all players in scoring in the Finals with 18.7 points per game.
If Parker, Ginobili, and Duncan continue to see traps and double-teams, the Spurs will continue to find Green on the perimeter and if he continues the hot shooting and San Antonio wins the series, Green may do something Allen will never have done, hoist an NBA Finals MVP trophy.