Rashard Lewis on 10-Game Suspension: 'I Did Nothing Wrong'
Lewis will open the regular season serving his 10-game suspension for violating the NBA's Anti-Drug Agreement last spring. He tested positive for a banned substance (commonly known as DHEA) that was found in an over-the-counter supplement he was taking.
"I still feel like I did nothing wrong,'' he said. "I've received more support than negative feedback. It's only 10 games in an 82-game season. It's not going to make or break us. When Game 11 comes, I'll be ready to go.''
The Magic will open camp today with everyone healthy, but it might not seem that way when they start putting players together on the floor.
Lewis becomes an early quandary for a team with championship aspirations.
He is as healthy as ever -- primed for another All-Star season -- but how much do you prepare him with the starters if he can't play the first 10 games? He is a starter who can't start, which may change much of what the Magic do during the exhibition schedule.
The Magic, despite reaching the NBA Finals last spring, added four new veterans to the rotation -- Vince Carter, Brandon Bass, Matt Barnes, Jason Williams -- and a lot of what they do in the first 10 games will change when Lewis returns.
"I'm still struggling with that,'' Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said Monday. "We certainly want Rashard getting his time on the floor early, but at the same time we have to get ready for those first 10 games without him. I don't have the answer yet. It's sort of a strange situation we're facing.''
The Magic will have the deepest team in their history, yet their delicate chemistry that was so vital in their rise last season may change significantly with key new additions and the unavailability of Lewis early.
The Magic had hoped that the addition of Bass at power forward, and the departure of Hedo Turkoglu, would allow Lewis to spend more time at small forward this season. When he plays power forward, the Magic likely will use Mickael Pietrus or Barnes at small forward.
His absence in those first 10 games will allow Van Gundy to get a closer look at other players, but it also will mean a major adjustment after those first 10.
"It (his absence) isn't as bad as the gloom and doom that some people are painting,'' said Magic general manager Otis Smith. "The good could outweigh the bad. He still has 72 games, and he's donating a lot of money ($1.2 million as part of his 10-game suspension) to charity.''
Smith also said that he thinks the league needs to do a better job educating players about what supplements they can or can't take during the season.
"I think the league knows I made an honest mistake,'' Lewis said. "They worked with me closely on this. It just lets you know that you can't go to a Walgreens Drug Store and pick up vitamins if you don't know what's in them. I don't take anything now except water. I'm scared to even take Advil.''