Rashard Lewis has one year remaining on the massive contract he signed in July 2007, but it's very unlikely he'll return to Washington in 2012/13. Michael Lee of the Washington Post says the Wizards will likely "take every step to part ways" with Lewis this summer.
While it's clear the Wizards would like to shed Lewis' contract, there isn't necessarily one obvious solution for how to do so. Lewis' $22.7MM salary for next season is only partially guaranteed for $13.7MM, so Washington could save $9MM by simply releasing the 32-year-old by June 30th. The Wizards have also yet to use their amnesty provision and could eliminate Lewis' remaining $22.7MM from their cap entirely by amnestying him.
According to Lee, however, the Wizards view Lewis as having trade value and are expected to pursue deals around the time of the draft. Lewis' contract will be next year's largest expiring deal and could represent a chance for a team to clear significant cap room in preparation for the CBA's more punitive cap and tax restrictions in 2013/14, says Lee.
While it's certainly worth exhausting trade possibilities in case there's a team that would have interest in Lewis and his expiring deal, I have my doubts that Washington will find a suitor. Players in the final years of large contract this season, such as Antawn Jamison and Chris Kaman, didn't seem to attract significant interest, and Lewis has an even bigger price tag, which will make it challenging to find a trade partner.
As I wrote when I previewed the Wizards' offseason, I view Andray Blatche as a more logical candidate for the amnesty provision, and expect Washington to simply buy Lewis out prior to June 30th, saving $9MM. For Lewis' part, he still expects to be a contributor, wherever he plays next year.
"I still feel like I got a lot of basketball in me," Lewis said. "I know I can still play at a high level. I know I can still run and jump. It’s just getting healthy."