Glen Rice isn't playing but enjoys better atmosphere

Glen Rice isn't playing but enjoys better atmosphere
April 15, 2014, 4:30 pm
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(Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)

The only time Glen Rice has been active since returning from the D-League 10 days ago is during practice. He hasn't been in uniform the five games the Wizards have played during that stretch, and probably will be in street clothes for Wednesday's regular-season finale at the Boston Celtics (CSN, 8 p.m. ET). 

"I'm excited just to get out here and do whatever I can to support the guys," said Rice. Barring an injury rash, he'll be watching the playoffs from the bench, too. He last appeared in an NBA game Dec. 14, and then had a hairline fracture in his right shooting wrist that required outpatient surgery. 

When Rice was called up, the Wizards were having issues with illness to Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster who had various aches and pains. Both are OK now, and coupled with Bradley Beal and Otto Porter and even a stretch forward such as Al Harrington there isn't room for Rice to get minutes in the rotation. The games are too important for a coach such as Randy Wittman to attempt to develop a rookie. If he's deemed not ready now, he'll have to wait. And that holds true with the other 29 teams in the NBA. 

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Rice's rookie season has produced two assignments to the Iowa Energy, where in 19 games he averaged 17.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.7 steals in 28 minutes. For the Wizards (43-38), he has played in just 11, including one start when the roster was riddled with injuries, for 2.9 points in 10 minutes. 

When the Wizards routed the Miami Heat 114-93 on Monday, they saw Justin Hamilton, a 7-footer who tore up the D-League with the Sioux Falls SkyForce by averaging 19.3 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. He's producing 2.6 points and less than a rebound in the NBA, showing that gaudy stats in the minor league rarely translate.

Why? Players are trying to get NBA contracts so it's a high-possession game with being called up as the priority more than winning basketball. Defenses aren't as good, the players aren't nearly as big and physical nor were any of the Wizards' concepts being taught by Iowa. The Wizards had given Hamilton a look before they signed Drew Gooden to the 15th and final roster spot Feb. 26.

"Basically I just got out there and got conditioning. We don't really do the same thing necessarily as Washington does," Rice said. "During this point in the season with the Wizards, it's hard to get any practice time."

Rice returned to a team that feels a lot better about itself now that it has qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

"We got a good atmosphere out here," he said. "The energy and morale are up."

The Wizards have a team option on Rice's contract for 2014-15, and if they pick it up with so much roster turnover likely because of free agency this summer that could clear the pathway for him come training camp.