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Posted at 7:05 PM ET, 12/20/2010

Rashard Lewis ready to move forward

By Tarik El-Bashir

Forty-eight hours after being dealt from the Magic to the Wizards, Rashard Lewis said this afternoon at Verizon Center that the shock has slowly subsided and that he's ready to move forward with his latest challenge.

"Going from a team that is competing for a championship to a team that's rebuilding, the goals obviously change for me," said the 6-10 Lewis, who was acquired Saturday in exchange for Gilbert Arenas. "I thought about that ever since the trade happened. Now, my ultimate goal is to get this team into the playoffs or into the hunt to make the playoffs and help these guys grow [by] being a veteran in the locker room, not by voice but most definitely by example."

Lewis said he had heard the rumors after Orlando's shoot-around Saturday morning. But that didn't take any sting out of the phone call he received shortly after lying down for his pre-game nap.

"My first reaction was obviously a little surprise as well as a little bit upset because it happened so quick," he said. "But my being in the league 12 years, it wasn't as big of a blow to me because I've been on teams where different teammates get traded. So I think I was prepared, built up a wall to where [I knew] it could happen to anybody at any time. I've seen the business side of it."

Lewis won't make his debut tonight against the Bobcats, saying he needs time to get mentally focused after arriving only a few hours ago.

"Got in this afternoon," he said. "The past 48 hours have been hectic. The hardest part was just that day. Like I was telling my mom, she asked me how I was feeling. I said I'm fine, I have thick skin. Once [Saturday] was over, I was going to be completely fine. Just everything was running through my mind 100 miles per hour. I just needed a little time to think, with moving, being traded, my family coming with me, living situations, there's a lot of stuff running through my mind."

One of the big questions facing Coach Flip Saunders is where to play Lewis, who played mostly small forward for Seattle during his first nine seasons and at power forward the past three-plus seasons in Orlando. Lewis said he doesn't have a preference, though he hinted that he feels he's most effective playing small forward.

"For me, it's whatever fits the team best," he said. "We have to put the best team out on the floor, if that's me playing the four position or if that's me playing the three position, what ever fits the team best to win ball games."

Regardless of the position he plays on the floor, Lewis said he knows he'll also be expected to contribute in a locker room that needs another veteran leader.

"Most definitely veteran leadership, veteran voice in the locker room," he said, asked what he brings to Washington. "Try to help some of these young guys. Not only that, the ultimate goal is to continue to get better every [time] we go out on the court and grow as a team and hopefully try to get to the playoffs."

With the Magic in a tailspin - they have lost six of seven - and his production slipping - he's averaging 12.2 points per game, his lowest offensive output since his sophomore season -- Lewis said he understood Orlando GM Otis Smith's logic for the making the trade.

"Wins and losses, that's what it comes down to," he said. "Especially when you're on a team like the Orlando Magic, an elite team. When the expectations are very high, any little mistake is going to be magnified. There was no room for error after the past three seasons I had there, after making the Finals, Eastern Conference finals. We started the season off the season winning. But at the same time, it was a little up and down. We lost some games, wasn't playing well, and overall, our defense kind of slacked off. I guess Otis felt like he needed a change."

"When you're on a such a good team like the Orlando Magic, some people have to sacrifice," he added. "I had to sacrifice some shots. I wasn't necessarily a role player ... but I was one of the guys who sacrificed. Hopefully I can get back to my old self [like] when I was in Seattle and I made the all-star team and I was playing the three position."

While the trade shook him, to be sure, Lewis also said now that he's had time to mull things over, he plans to use it as motivation.

"This is most definitely going to fuel me a little bit. I'm the type of guy, I've been doubted my whole life growing up, from high school to the NBA. I feel like there's always something in front of me challenging me. I just look at this as another challenge. When I was traded, a lot of people were feeling sympathy for me. I didn't want the sympathy."

By Tarik El-Bashir  | December 20, 2010; 7:05 PM ET
Categories:  Rashard Lewis  
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Next: On anniversary of infamous gun incident, Gilbert Arenas moves forward

Comments

I was in Houston when the Rockets passed over him and they have regreted that decision to this day. The man is a professional and will play.

Posted by: rayjay1 | December 20, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse

8th playoff seed or bust for the Wizards, spring 2011. This can be done.

Posted by: ragtop4spd | December 20, 2010 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Lewis won't make his debut tonight against the Bobcats, saying he needs time to get mentally focused after arriving only a few hours ago.

The NBA version of a case of the vapours. He should of been in uniform.

Posted by: djnnnou | December 20, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Rumor has it that Rashard and VC are gone b/c Howard wanted them gone.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | December 20, 2010 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Blatche has to take a seat on the pine. With an accomplished player like Lewis its only appropriate. Suggested Starting Line up?

Wall 18 and 7
Young 22.5 and 3 reb
Howard 11 and 4
Lewis 21.0 and 7
(SERAPHIN) 4 and 5

Call me crazy but Seraphin looks solid especially on defense. Has good hands and can rebound well. His post defense is the most impressive battling with Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum etc...

Posted by: mrhney03 | December 20, 2010 11:18 PM | Report abuse

I hope that Rashard Lewis will push Andre Blatche to be better. I think that Blatche is already the better player at the 4 spot with his superior size and length; but I just think he could be so much better. First, Andre needs to train harder and get into superior shape. He could get a lot stronger with more stamina and more pop. Second, he needs to use the jump hook and play a low post power game more of the time. I'd like to see him just backdown his defender sometimes and then just throw in a little jump hook after he gets the position he needs. If Andre can regularly draw a double team; he can kill other teams with his terrific passing skills especially now that his decision making has improved so much. The Wizards really need someone who can do that consistently so that they can play inside/outside on offense. I remember one play last year where he took a jab step to the baseline and then rolled across the lane and tossed in a nice little jump hook. I thought, that was so simple, easy, and really unstoppable. He didn't juke any with the ball; all the jab step did was freeze the defender but that was more than enough for Dre to have the advantage. It was efficient and he really looked like a pro with that move. Andre has great touch around the basket and terrific overall skills. With his great baseline moves and turnaround jumper; the jump hook would give him the complete repertoire. Then he just has to make quick decisions and go quickly and powerfully with the right move or the right pass. The great player is the one who can draw the double teams and still score consistently while making his teammates better. I think Andre has the potential to be that kind of player.

After Jamison was traded away last year, Andre really flourished. I give him a world of credit for being ready to take advantage of the chance and he proved that he can be a star in the NBA. I know that Andre has had some injury problems this year that have set him back some, but I don't believe he has as much speed and pop as last year so it looks as if he has slid backwards some as far as his conditioning. Andre should be a 20 point, 10 rebounds a game player for years to come if he really dedicates himself. He has had a taste of being a starter and the main guy in the offense. I think a threat to that status could be a big motivator.

Posted by: tpridemore | December 21, 2010 12:46 AM | Report abuse

Well I gotta say to go Wall, Howard, Lewis, Blatche, Mcgee to start, w/ Hinrich, Young, Thornton, Booker, Yi backin up. These guys can mix & max all sorts aways, & run alot of Wall, Young, Howard, Lewia, Blatche.

Posted by: Darnell1 | December 21, 2010 12:48 AM | Report abuse

Well I gotta say to go Wall, Howard, Lewis, Blatche, Mcgee to start, w/ Hinrich, Young, Thornton, Booker, Yi backin up. These guys can mix & max all sorts aways, & run alot of Wall, Young, Howard, Lewis, Blatche.

Posted by: Darnell1 | December 21, 2010 12:50 AM | Report abuse

Well I gotta say to go Wall, Howard, Lewis, Blatche, Mcgee to start, w/ Hinrich, Young, Thornton, Booker, Yi backin up. These guys can mix & max all sorts aways, & run alot of Wall, Young, Howard, Lewis, Blatche.

Posted by: Darnell1 | December 21, 2010 12:51 AM | Report abuse

Kind of hard to move Young back to the bench with the way he's been playing -- he and Hinrich have meshed well in a short time. At SF Josh Howard has looked good just two games back -- probably the best defender that the Wizards have right now.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Flip experimenting with Blatche at center while Lewis plays PF. Wouldn't be surprised to see Howard at SG with Lewis at SF too. It's definitely going to be interesting to see how this newest version of the Wizards plays out. They've got some talented players and some young players who you'd like to see continue to get experience (e.g. Seraphin and Booker). It's a little hard to see how Flip works out the rotations. Wouldn't be too surprised if EG had some additional roster moves in play before the trade deadline. But you never know. The last couple games the team has played well. That 8th playoff seed may be within reach by this team in March-April.

Posted by: JPRS | December 21, 2010 2:35 AM | Report abuse

I remember RL getting passed over at the draft (not just by Houston) being left in the draft room all alone and finally being selected very late 2nd round after being projected to go early to mid 1st round. Offers from just about every D1 school, he elected to enter the draft and has become an outstanding player in the league. I don't know if he is a true fit for this team but time will tell. By the time this team grows up, I doubt he'll be here but hopefully he'll provide something to the mix! Hasn't really showed much this year but maybe the change from sunny Orlando to snowy, cold azz DC will fire up his game!

Starting line up will always have KH in it, like it or not! No way NY should go back to bench but Flip will be Flip!

KH PG
NY SG
RL SF
AB PF
JM C

Count on it! JH will eventually bump NY!

Posted by: zack9633 | December 21, 2010 6:21 AM | Report abuse

BTW Once JW returns, so will the 3 guard line up! That's a Flip original!

Posted by: zack9633 | December 21, 2010 6:25 AM | Report abuse

I wonder what Cal o' Drama thinks of the fact that Lewis played mostly small forward for Seattle during his first nine seasons.

I wonder if he would consider that a determination that maybe Lewis could actually play there.

Good call by Larry, I'd say.

Posted by: ajedwardsjr | December 21, 2010 7:57 AM | Report abuse

I haven't followed Rashard Lewis that closely, but at a listed 6'10" and age 31, it's hard to imagine him staying with some of the league's small forwards on defense. The PFs, either. Some nights he's just going to be a matchup problem. Not much you can do about it.

On the other hand, he's shown he can shoot over people. 39.2% from the arc for his career, which considering he's been in the league 12 years, is no mean feat. Plus he's a moderately good passer. That's the sort of player you could run a few plays through. On the off-chance Nick ever has a bad shooting night...

Posted by: Samson151 | December 21, 2010 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Leave it up to Flip to ruin any chance to make this team relevant again.

Posted by: Doobie_Sparks | December 21, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

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