More than two weeks after having a platelet rich plasma injection in his right knee, Rashard Lewis is ready to start to get prepared for next season. His initial stint with the Wizards came to an end last month, when the pain in his right knee became unbearable and he was ineffective.
The injection he received on March 17 in New York spared him from a dreaded surgery – at least he hopes it does – but now comes a more intense rehabilitation. When the Wizards went on the West coast trip, Lewis stayed back and worked out with assistant athletic trainer Koichi Sato. He ran on an anti-gravity treadmill to stay moving without putting a strain on his knee. But he’s ready for more.
“Now is when we’re going to ramp it up and run, do a lot of activities and see how the legs feel,” Lewis said on Sunday. “The most important thing is doing as much rehab as possible and strengthen the tendon in the knee. Coming up, we just got to do a lot of running, aggravate it a little bit and see how it recovers the next day.”
Lewis, 31, dealt with tendinitis in his knee all season, which he blames for the least productive season since his second year after entering the league from high school. The Orlando Magic dealt him after he averaged just 12.2 points and 4.2 rebounds. He assuming a different role in Washington, where Coach Flip Saunders utilized him at small forward, and saw an initial spike in his numbers, but his scoring eventually dipped to just 11.4 points, though his rebounding improved to 5.8.
The Wizards went 9-23 in the games that Lewis played and when he couldn’t contribute the way he wanted, Lewis decided it would be better if he stopped playing if he wasn’t helping. He said this season has been disappointing. “I think about it all the time,” Lewis said. “I think when the season started off, being in Orlando and then getting traded here, being injured, trying to be a sparkplug for this team and not being able to perform at 100 percent. Like I told a lot of people when I got here, it was an up and down team already, trying to re-fix it was not a tough job, but with so many young guys on the team, it’s hard to scream and yell at a guy when you’re not on the court, going to battle with him.”
The most frustrating part about being out, Lewis said, is that he cannot provide the veteran leadership that he knows he was acquired to bring. “If they can see this old guy out there working his [butt] off and busting his [butt] then they have no excuse. The young guys have no excuse,” he said. “When you’re sitting on the side, you can tell them what you do, but you can’t scream and yell at them. You can do it more when you’re on the court. They need a couple of more veterans to come in, and not only talk to them, but show them you got to put in work while you here.”
Lewis, the league’s second-highest player this season at $20.5 million, said he wouldn’t be ready to partake in basketball related activity for several weeks. “It probably won’t come until a little bit later in the summer. That’s my main focus, getting back to 100 percent, getting my knee healthy and most definitely being a better player then. Just being in training camp with the team, with all these young guys, being a veteran in camp, getting the job done on the court and not just telling these guys what to do and how to do it.”