- The Washington Times - Friday, March 9, 2012

Rashard Lewis would rather be on the court. So would Ronny Turiaf. But injuries have deprived the youthful Wizards of two veteran leaders who could have helped this team both on and off the court this season.

Lewis, 32, last played on Feb. 22 against the Sacramento Kings and has been sidelined ever since with soreness in his left knee. Turiaf, 29, has played in just four games after breaking his hand against the Boston Celtics on Jan. 1.

An MRI earlier this week revealed that Lewis’ pain was due to a bone bruise under his left kneecap. Lewis said he also received a Synvisc shot, which is used to treat osteoarthritis knee pain. He may need two more injections before he can play again, but he’s hopeful that one will be enough.

“The doctor says we’ll see how it feels again next week, but hopefully I’ll be playing before next week,” he said. “It’s nothing damaging [where] I have to have surgery, just something I guess will have to get better with rest.”

The two-time All-Star (2005, 2009) reached a career milestone last month when he became the third player in NBA history with 15,000 points, 5,000 rebounds and 1,500 3-pointers, joining Jason Kidd and Paul Pierce. Lewis achieved the mark Feb. 12 on the road against the Detroit Pistons.

But Lewis has been plagued by pain in both knees all season. Before the bone bruise in his left knee, he had recurring stiffness in his right knee. The 14-year veteran has struggled this season, averaging just 7.8 points and shooting 38.5 percent in 28 games.

It wasn’t the way Lewis envisioned the latter years of his career and possibly his final months in a Wizards uniform. The team has the option of using the amnesty provision on Lewis or buying out the remainder of his $21 million contract for $13.7 million.

Turiaf, acquired by the Wizards in December as part of a three-team trade and expected to provide help at power forward and center, wanted to return to the court sooner but is heeding the advice of his doctors and taking his time.

“It’s the same injury that I had in the summer, so I think that’s why it’s taking a bit longer,” he said. “That’s very unusual. I’m just the picture-perfect person for unusual stuff. Open-heart surgery, broken hand, same hand in six months.

“If it was just me choosing to play, I would’ve been back a long time ago. But this is not just my decision. It’s something that can be very nagging for the rest of my life if I don’t take care of it. But nothing is going to stop me. That’s what success is all about, just getting up every time and keep on moving forward.”