Rashard Lewis joins Wizards after Arenas trade
Though he was surprised, Rashard Lewis was hardly fazed by a trade from a finals contender to a lottery team.
''When I got traded, a lot of people were feeling sympathy for me, and I said I don't want it,'' Lewis said Monday during his introductory press conference as a member of the Washington Wizards, 48 hours after he was dealt from Orlando for Gilbert Arenas. ''I'm a basketball player. The trade happened, and so be it. I'm just going to go out here and be professional.''
That being said, Lewis acknowledged he was ''a little surprised'' about the trade, since he was an integral part of the Magic's success during the past three-plus seasons.
''You most definitely use (the trade) as motivation,'' Lewis said with a smile. ''It is definitely going to fuel me. I'm the type of guy that's been doubted growing up from high school to the NBA. I feel like there's always something in front of me that's challenging me, and I just look at this as another challenge.''
Lewis averaged 12.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in 25 games with Orlando this season, a drop from his career numbers of 16.5 points and 5.6 rebounds. While Lewis was out of the lineup for Monday's game against the Charlotte Bobcats, he envisions himself playing both forward positions for the Wizards.
''I played mostly the 3 in Seattle for nine years and moved to the 4 in Orlando, but I think for me, it's whatever fits the team best,'' he said. ''You put the best team on the floor.''
Washington coach Flip Saunders, who coached Lewis during the 2001 Goodwill Games, said Lewis would bring a lot to the young Wizards' lineup, including his ability to play multiple positions.
''He's very professional and he's going to be extremely motivated,'' Saunders said. ''We're going to try and use him a little bit how he was used in Seattle - move him around, let him play a couple of positions and run some plays for him. It's one of his positives. You can move him around.''
Lewis joins Kirk Hinrich and Josh Howard as veteran presences on a team being built around No. 1 overall pick John Wall. But the two-time All-Star said he would ease into a leadership role.
''I'm going to try and help some of these young guys,'' he said. ''But I'm going to watch and observe. I'm not going to come in and be the big, bad wolf, telling everybody what to do. My ultimate goal is to get this team to the playoffs and help these guys grow.''
In another roster move, the Wizards waived swingman Alonzo Gee and re-signed point guard Lester Hudson to the roster to provide depth for an ailing Wall.
Hudson appeared in six games earlier this season for Washington, before being waived Nov. 22 to make room for Gee. Gee appeared in 11 games (five starts) for the Wizards, and averaged 2.9 points and 2.0 rebounds.