After being treated to an aggressive 24-hour courtship, Rashard Lewis told the Orlando Magic on Monday that he plans to leave the Seattle SuperSonics to sign a max contract with Orlando on July 11, according to NBA front-office sources.
The price for Lewis' services could grow, though. Unless a sign-and-trade arrangement can be worked out with Lewis' old team or unless it can otherwise shed a contract or two to create more salary-cap space in the next week, Orlando will have to renounce the rights to restricted free agent Darko Milicic to create the cap room to fund such a lucrative deal, instantly making Milicic an unrestricted free agent.
Only the Sonics had the right to sign Lewis to a six-year deal and pay him more than he'll get from the Magic, but the 27-year-old apparently eager to team with Howard and move out of the Western Conference.
Milicic, meanwhile, figures to have no shortage of free-agent opportunities if he is indeed released onto the open market, despite a fourth straight season marked by concerns about the 7-footer's intensity. The former No. 2 overall pick in the 2003 draft by Detroit averaged just 8.0 points and 5.5 rebounds for the Magic in his first full season of regular playing time, but the 22-year-old did raise his game in the playoffs by averaging 12.3 points on 58.8-percent shooting in Orlando's four-game exit to the Pistons in the first round.