Next season begins for Otto Porter and Glen Rice on Monday, when the Wizards open a four-day mini-camp at Verizon Center to prepare for Las Vegas summer league play next weekend.
Both rising second-year players have been working out at Verizon Center together. Regardless of what happens with the rest of free agency -- the Wizards are hoping to retain Trevor Ariza and appear certain to bring back Andre Miller, Drew Gooden and Garrett Temple -- there's a push to find more playing time for Porter and Rice.
Last year during mini-camp, Porter went out with a strain to his right thigh that put him on the shelf. He played the first couple games in Las Vegas but then sat the rest of the way. He ended up missing the entire preseason and didn't play in the regular season until December and never could crack the rotation for steady minutes.
Martell Webster, who was Ariza's backup at small forward, is out for as many as five months after having back surgery. That opens the spot for Porter, but the plan, CSNWashington.com had been told before the injury, was to use Webster more at shooting guard behind Bradley Beal anyway.
Rice didn't play after he had surgery on his right shooting wrist in December, a major setback to his development though he did get time with the Iowa Energy of the D-League. The Wizards value like his defense and expect his shot to develop.
The secret weapon to getting the Wizards past the second round of the playoffs, in addition to adding about two new players in free agency, is getting Porter and Rice up to speed. This is their chance, but they'll have to earn it.