- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 12, 2009

When Juan Dixon returned to the District in September, re-signing with the team that drafted him in 2002 and seizing again the opportunity to play near his native Baltimore, he sought stability and a spark that would revive his career.

After his third professional season, the former Maryland star left Washington as a free agent and signed with the Portland Trail Blazers. But three up-and-down seasons, two trades and his release from the Detroit Pistons last summer followed. Dixon's second stint with Washington has been anything but reviving, however.

When they pursued Dixon, the Wizards envisioned him as a backup guard who could capitalize on increased playing time and help them reach the playoffs.

Dixon signed a one-year deal for the veteran minimum, but the results haven't been bountiful. The Wizards have suffered through one of the worst seasons in franchise history, and Dixon has had a frustrating year, too. Playing time has been hard to come by, and he owns a career-low scoring average of 5.2 points.

“It's been a frustrating year, for all of us,” he said. “First of all, not being able to put together a good season, losing our coach early in the year, injuries - it's just been a long, frustrating season. But for the most part, everybody's been real professional, continued to come to work every day and work hard.”

Early in the season, Dixon started six games at point guard while filling in for hobbled teammates. Since then, he has endured an uneventful campaign: He has received some opportunities but many more nights when his name isn't called at all.

In the past month, Dixon's strained right Achilles tendon has forced him to miss seven games. He sat out two games in late March, tried to come back for two games, then aggravated the injury and missed five more.

Two weeks ago, point guard Mike James broke his finger and was lost for the season. Gilbert Arenas returned on a limited basis, so the Wizards were left with just two fully active guards: point guard Javaris Crittenton and shooting guard Nick Young.

Dixon returned April 4 against Miami, logging 20 minutes while scoring five points and handing out three assists. He left the game in the third quarter because of his Achilles. Interim coach Ed Tapscott at the time said he thought Dixon's season likely was over.

“I really appreciated his effort,” Tapscott said. “He probably shouldn't have played. I don't think I'm going to be able to use him for the rest of the year because he strained it.”

But Dixon didn't miss a game, gutting it out four days later against Cleveland. The area around the Achilles and ankle still bothered him, but Dixon believed he could deal with the discomfort and try to help his team in a limited capacity.

“[We] just need bodies,” Dixon said after posting five points and two assists in the loss at Cleveland. “Mike James went down with a broken finger, Gil's not playing. So we needed another backup guard for Javaris. So I tried to suck it up for a couple more games.”

On Friday, with Arenas choosing again to rest his knee, Dixon relieved Crittenton and played the entire fourth quarter, recording six points and an assist in the period and helping the Wizards rally for a victory at Toronto.

It hasn't been the triumphant homecoming or springboard season Dixon had hoped for. With his contract expiring after the season, his future remains uncertain, but Dixon said he has no regrets about signing with the Wizards.

“It was a good situation. I enjoyed playing in front of the home crowd. I get a lot of support here,” Dixon said. “I enjoy the guys in the locker room. I played with a lot of these guys my first two years in the NBA, so it was good to be back in this locker room.

“And we've had a good time, even though it's been tough.”

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