As practice came to a conclusion on Monday, Rashard Lewis huddled along the sideline for a few minutes with Wizards assistant Sam Cassell. Lewis walked away from the conversation laughing, then shot a long jumper before the leaving the court. Before he headed to the locker room, a flock of reporters was standing by, waiting, and he asked with a smile, “Is this for me?”
“The only reason I didn’t play was because my knee was sore,” Lewis said. “No argument. No argument at all. I don’t know what’s going on. Maybe because we haven’t won a game yet somebody is trying to make up stories, I guess. Point the finger at somebody. I don’t know.”
Lewis dealt with knee tendinitis all last season and had a platelet rich plasma procedure to generate a more natural healing process last March. He trained during the offseason in Houston and arrived in camp healthy, but he has had a difficult campaign, averaging just 8.7 points and 4.1 rebounds. Lewis also had a disappointing game against the New York Knicks on Friday and was benched for the entire fourth quarter.
“Even if I did get into an argument with Sam, I still wouldn’t have played,” Lewis said. “Regardless of what the argument was about – a football game, whatever it was – still would’ve played. My job is to come out and play. That’s what I’ve been doing.”
Lewis said he was feeling better physically during Monday’s practice after giving himself a day off, but he is upset that the Wizards are off to a franchise-worst 0-8 start. “It’s very frustrating. Not only for me, but for everybody. Nobody wants to keep losing ball games. I haven’t been playing well. We haven’t been shooting the ball well. Nobody really to point the finger at. We’ve got to come out here every night to get better and win ball games.”
After ruling himself out of the game against the Timberwolves, Lewis said he got treatment and stimulation in the training room and also did some exercises. He watched the game from the locker room because he didn’t bring a sport coat with him to the arena. Lewis added that he had a friendly disagreement with Cassell that was obviously misinterpreted.
“Everybody knows Sam. Sam’s a loud talker, regardless of what he’s talking about. If he’s talking to you in a friendly manner, he’s just a loud talker. I don’t know. Somebody must have took it and thought that me and Sam were arguing,” Lewis said. “Maybe we was just talking. I know at one point, he was talking about how he was playing with the Clippers and I played in Seattle and he busted up [Minnesota Timberwolves point guard] Luke Ridnour and was bragging and talking noise. Maybe somebody took it out of [context, that] we was arguing, when he was talking about how he killed us when he was playing for the Clippers and I played for the Sonics. I have no idea what’s going on.”
Saunders said there was nothing to it. “He didn’t play because of his knee. I guess there’s a lot of stuff that comes out when things are going bad. A lot of things come out and a lot of times people read too much into situations.”