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Posted at 10:32 AM ET, 09/13/2011

Wizards’ Rashard Lewis on lockout: ‘You can’t blame the players’

Only three players were able to participate in the Wizards team workouts forward Andray Blatche organized on Monday at a high school gym in Clarksville. Hamady Ndiaye and draft pick Chris Singleton joined Blatche for the first of three sessions expected to take place this week.


Oh, it ain’t my fault. (John McDonnell - THE WASHINGTON POST)
Blatche is hopeful that John Wall and Rashard Lewis will be able to attend the workouts today — though it would seem like a challenge for Lewis to come since he was in Las Vegas on Monday for the Impact Basketball Competitive Training Series with several other Wizards. The training series was established after Blatche started planning the workouts and several Wizards chose to head to Las Vegas for training and competitive five-on-five games against several other current and former NBA players for the next two weeks.

Lewis, whose partial season in Washington ended last March, scored 17 points on Monday for a Wizards-heavy team that also featured Jordan Crawford, draft pick Shelvin Mack and restricted free agent Larry Owens. Wall and Nick Young have also committed to play in what has been called, “the lockout league.”

ESPN.com columnist J.A. Adande spoke with Lewis about his role at the possible center of the lockout, since he is set to be the second-highest paid player in the league next season, though he hasn’t been an all-star since 2009 and missed 25 games last season because of a right knee injury. Lewis signed a six-year, $118 deal with the Orlando Magic in 2007 and was traded to the Wizards for Gilbert Arenas last December in what essentially was a swap of stale contracts. Lewis asked Adande why he should get the blame for signing the deal.

“You sign me to a deal, you think I’m going to say, ‘No, I deserve $50 [million] instead of $80 [million]?’” Lewis said. “I’m like, ‘Hell, yeah.’ I’m not going to turn it down. You can’t blame the players. If anything, we don’t negotiate the deal. We’ve got agents that negotiate the deals with the team. Y’all need to go talk to the teams and the agents.”

The NBA and the players’ union will meet today in New York to possibly make some progress in the labor negotiations. The two sides met twice last week, which many saw as a sign of progress, but they are expected to trade proposals today during what is considered a critical negotiation session toward getting the regular season to start on time.

Lewis experienced a delay to his NBA career after Seattle drafted him in 1998, a week before the last major work stoppage resulted in a shortened 50-game season. Lewis feels that the union should continue to fight for the rights that they have earned over the years. “Guys before me or before us made the way for us to be successful, and I think we have to do the same thing for the young guys,” Lewis said. “We can’t say, ‘Forget them.’”

By  |  10:32 AM ET, 09/13/2011

 
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