- The Washington Times - Friday, December 23, 2011

The last time the NBA missed games due to a lockout, Washington Wizards forward Rashard Lewis was a rookie. It was the 1998-99 season, which was compressed into a 50-game schedule. Lewis was 19 years old, fresh out of high school and had slipped into the early second round on draft night before going to the Seattle Supersonics with the 32nd overall pick.

Fast forward 13 years, and the 32-year-old Lewis is a seasoned veteran and a two-time All-Star — in 2005 and 2009. He was traded from the Orlando Magic to the Wizards just over a year ago for Gilbert Arenas and made no secret of the fact that leaving a perennial playoff team to join a rebuilding franchise was a difficult adjustment.

After dealing with a nagging knee injury that kept him sidelined during much of last season, Lewis is preparing to deal with yet another lockout-shortened season and knows what it will take to get through it.

“We just have to know it’s going to be a lot of games,” Lewis said. “Like coach [Flip Saunders] said before training camp, we’ve got to be mentally ready and listen while we’re watching game film and at shootaround because there’s not going to be much practice time.

“I remember the year I got drafted. It was my first year and [there was] a lockout. We hardly practiced at all. Everything was shootaround and games.”

During this post-lockout season, Lewis may have the wisdom of a savvy veteran with playoff experience, but what he doesn’t have are the legs of a 19-year-old.

“When we have those triple headers or a back-to-back and then a day off and another back-to-back, there’s no excuses for tired legs or exhaustion because every team is going to have it, so I think the most important thing is going to be taking care of your body,” Lewis said.

“You have to eat right, get the proper rest … because once we start Monday, it’s going to be full steam ahead.”

The veteran also knows that roster depth is key, along with flexibility in the team’s lineup.

“It’s important that the guys on the bench be prepared to play because we’re going to have to rest a lot of guys,” he said. “When you have a deep team, I think it will benefit a lot of teams during a season like this. I think there are a lot of guys that can play on this team.

“Even the rookies have got to be ready to go because there’s going to be some nights where some guys are not going to have it, and they’re going to have to come in.”

Lewis predicts that this season for him will include a lot of massages, rest and plenty of nights in the ice tub.

“Almost everyday after practice, even when you’re on the road, I’m going to have to just throw ice in the tub in the hotel room,” Lewis said.