By Ira Winderman Sun Sentinel
MIAMI — How does it come together?
It comes together with Rashard Lewis calling Ray Allen and telling him he’s going to sign with the Miami Heat at a free-agency discount and his former Seattle SuperSonics teammate telling him he is planning to do the same.
How does it play out?
It plays out with Lewis’ eyes as wide as saucers.
“You’ve got to double-team LeBron. You have to double-team Dwyane Wade. You’ve got to double-team Chris Bosh. And then you think they’re going to leave Ray Allen open?” Lewis said Wednesday. “They’ve got to leave somebody open. So I have to go (shoot) a million jumpers tonight and be ready to knock them down. Somebody’s got to be open.”
And where does it go from here, after Lewis and Allen formally were introduced Wednesday as the newest members of the Heat in separate press conferences?
Apparently with far less drama the balance of this offseason.
“We’re just going to hold right now. We feel good about our roster,” Heat President Pat Riley said while beaming alongside his two newest additions. “We have 13 players under contract, so we’re going to hold right now.”
For the Heat, this is a significant change of post-championship course. After remaining intact following the first of the franchise’s two championships, in 2006, Riley this time decided to instantly upgrade.
“That was my mistake,” Riley said of the post-2006 failures, which included a fall to 15-67 in 2007-08, “You’ve got to keep adding pieces to it.
“We’ve got to raise the bar. We’ve got to expect more from ourselves.”
Enter Allen, who said he arrives with championship visions, but also accepting the reality of joining a championship team already in progress.
“This team won a championship without me,” he said. “I’m not going to expect Coach to cater to who I am or what I do. Whether you start or come off the bench, the best compliment is who you finish the game with. I’ve always been a guy who goes with what the coach needs or wants.”
Coach Erik Spoelstra said a comfort zone for Allen already has been established.
“We want to get to a point where we are position-less,” he said. “Ray fits that. His skill set, professionalism as a champion, he fits very well with who we already have here.
“There are only a handful of players that absolutely strike fear into their opponent, and Ray is one of those players. We brought him here to be a big part of what we do.”
Like Lewis, Allen is intrigued by the possibilities.
“I’m looking forward to having a high-octane offense,” he said, “with Dwyane and LeBron pushing it and creating so many shots for everybody else.”
While Wednesday hardly was a defining moment for the Heat, certainly nothing like when Riley last spoke in the interview room at AmericanAirlines Arena in the wake of his team winning the 2012 NBA championship, it offered a window to what comes next.
And what comes next will be a Heat roster with even greater depth to support the featured games of James, Wade and Bosh.
“The game has changed,” Riley said.
So have the rules of the game, at least when it comes to free agency and weighing salary versus championship potential.
That has Allen and Lewis arriving at considerable discounts, Allen at a starting salary of $3.1 million, Lewis at the veteran minimum of $1.3 million.
“If we could and had the ability to pay all the players really what maybe they could get on the open market, we would,” Riley said. “We don’t have that capability.”
So, instead, Riley said he simply entered negotiations speaking of talent, not salary-cap, riches.
“I just mention LeBron and Chris and Dwyane, and they take it from there,” Riley said.
Allen joked that he at least was able to escape Riley’s clutches long enough to make his decision.
“I didn’t sign a contract in the room,” he quipped. “I got away and I was able to think about it on a neutral site.”
For Lewis, it means going from a max contract to providing maximum rotation flexibility for Spoelstra.
“To be quite honest, three years ago, I don’t think anybody could have imagined this,” Spoelstra said of landing Lewis at such a discount, with the forward just three years removed from a 2009 NBA Finals appearance with the Orlando Magic. “The versatility is the key, the versatility to play multiple positions.”
That has the Heat, at least for now, moving away from the power game that had so defined Riley’s coaching tenure.
“We’re getting to the point with this team,” Riley said, “until the next center comes along who we can throw it to on a regular basis, this is how we’re going to play.”
With flexibility and discount moving parts who complement James, Wade and Bosh.
There still could be one more significant addition should forward Mike Miller move ahead with back surgery. Such a scenario could leave the Heat with a $2.9 million injured-player exception. Otherwise, only minimum salaries can be extended the balance of the offseason.
“He’s going to meet with the doctor this week and then they’re going to take the second step,” Riley said.
Should the Heat need more pieces, Riley said he is confident they will be there, as well, perhaps taking a look back at the free-agent market later in the process.
For now, there is a pair of newcomers who hardly are new to one another.
“Over the years, we’ve kept a good relationship,” Lewis said. “I know the chemistry is there.”