Rashard Lewis could be headed to the Washington Wizards in a trade that would send Gilbert Arenas to the Orlando Magic, reports SB Nation blog Orlando Pinstriped Post. The rumored deal was previously thought to include Vince Carter, who has a similarly large contract for this season, but has the benefit of an expiring deal. (Carter has a team option worth $18.3 million for 2011-12, but only $4 million of that is guaranteed, and the rest can be erased if Carter is waived by June 30, 2011, according to ShamSports.)
Lewis has $31-43 million guaranteed over the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, depending on whether he meets performance benchmarks. The Magic would have steep financial difficulties if Lewis were kept and Arenas were acquired, as the Wizard guard is guaranteed $62 million through 2013-14. Between them, Lewis, Arenas and Dwight Howard would make a combined $58 million next season. The luxury tax threshold this season is around $70 million, and that's expected to fall in the next collective bargaining agreement.
The motive for such moves appears to be Dwight Howard's unhappiness with the team's lack of progress as the Magic finish up the first 25 games of the season at 16-9, 2-1/2 games behind the Miami Heat in the Southeast Division and five games behind Boston for the East's all-important No. 1 seed. Orlando was 19-6 a year ago.
A report from Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, that the Wizards are not content to trade Arenas for cap relief only, would back up the Lewis rumor. While it seems unbelievable that the Wizards could actually demand more than cap relief for Arenas' sour deal, the Magic seem to be just that desperate.