Boiling Point: Wizards Waive Glen Rice Jr. | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Boiling Point: Wizards Waive Glen Rice Jr.

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Updated: January 7, 2015

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It’s official: Glen Rice Jr., 2013 Wizards second-round draftee, has been waived. As reported on Monday by CSNWashington, the Wizards planned to either trade or release Rice by today, when Rice’s contract would become guaranteed for the entirety of the season. In the eyes of Ted Leonsis and Ernie Grunfeld, the open roster spot (and subsequent veteran signing as the playoffs approach) created by Rice’s departure was ultimately more valuable than Rice’s retention or continued development.

In a little bit more than a season with the Wizards, Rice appeared in 16 games, started one, averaged 2.7 points (on 26.9% shooting), 1.5 rebounds, and 0.6 assists in 9.4 minutes per game. The Wizards traded for Rice on draft night after he was named the MVP of the NBA D-League while playing with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Prior to this season, Rice collected another award of sorts: the 2014 Las Vegas Summer League MVP. Many believed that Rice would contribute in 2014-15, at least while forward Martell Webster was recovering from back surgery. But despite the sub-NBA hardware, Rice could neither crack Randy Wittman’s rotation, nor his roster.

Rice has potential, to be sure. He’s a fantastic athlete and fearless with the ball in his hands. Defensively, he’s overzealous but effective. It’s all twisted up, though, with a tendency to add difficulty to otherwise straightforward shots, and, perhaps fatally, an argument with noted hardliner Randy Wittman.

On November 7, in a blowout loss to the Raptors, a presumably pre-perturbed Wittman clashed with Rice in front of the Wizards bench. Although the act of apparent insubordination was not formally addressed, Rice never played another minute with the Wizards and was sent to the D-League two weeks later. Teammates believed, according to CSNWashington, that Rice was a “great teammate who did have issues being coached.” Easily rattled by the referees in the Summer League and otherwise, Rice’s body language wasn’t always textbook, either.

John Wall gave some well-reasoned advice via CSN’s J. Michael:

“He really got frustrated, not playing, not dressing, a guy that’s young and want to prove himself it’s kind of tough to take the back seat when you’re used to playing a lot of minutes. You could tell at times when he would get frustrated not playing as much. You got to know how to accept it and just be professional. It’s not just us. Twenty-nine other teams might want to know how he’s doing in practice, how he’s competing and coming into work every day.”

It’s reminiscent in some ways of the “trade” the Wizards executed that shipped Jordan Crawford to Boston. While Crawford was talented, his relationship with Wittman was rocky. In his final days, Crawford was exiled to the end of the bench, where he built a fort out of ice packs and set a record for yawns per game. Rice, by all accounts, was never as obviously checked out as Crawford, and still has the respect of his teammates. But the common thread is that the Wizards coach, who has been integral in repairing a broken culture in the wake of the Arenas-Blatche-Young-McGee season, don’t take no stuff from nobody.

And that’s mostly a good thing. Attitudes leak and locker rooms can be smeared with the tension. One dissatisfied player can adversely affect the psyche of the rest. Still, one would think that part of getting paid to be an NBA head coach is preventative medicine, finding a way to reach a player before things go so far south.

As is the familiar refrain, Glen will likely land on his feet and develop with another team, whether it be in the NBA or overseas. Rice is a former second-round pick, a position in the draft that rarely translates to long-term success, and so it’s somewhat uncontroversial that he’s been released by a playoff team making a run at the NBA Finals in a better, but still wide-open, Eastern Conference. Any controversy is cumulative, as Rice joins a long line of promising young players that have failed to become productive for the Wizards.

While teams like the San Antonio Spurs (who carry several young, still flawed players at any given time) and others seem to be more able to draft and develop, the Wizards have released, traded, declined to sign, or otherwise left to languish Shelvin Mack, Chris Singleton, Jan Vesely, Trevor Booker, and Tomas Satoransky during John Wall’s tenure with the team. (Going back pre-Wall, Oleksiy Pecherov, Dominic McGuire, and Peter “Party” John Ramos.)

While Mack (Atlanta) and Booker (Utah) have found valuable roles with subsequent teams, Singleton (18th overall pick) and Vesely (6th overall pick) are out of the NBA after three years. Singleton got picked up by the Indiana Pacers, waived before the season, and is now toiling away in China; Vesely plays for a top team in Turkey after not showing much in Denver. Since Wall was drafted, the Wizards have also found some modicum of draft success, in that they drafted Bradley Beal with the third overall pick in 2012. It remains to be seen whether Washington’s 2013 third overall pick, Otto Porter, will become a consistent contributor.

The Wizards have had better luck filling out their roster around Wall and Beal with players that represent known values rather than still-malleable athletes without developed NBA skill. Randy Wittman recently told the Washington Post‘s Dan Steinberg that the team he inherited, chock full of young players as it was, was “career suicide.” Wittman went on, in his interview with Steinberg, to say:

“So I told [Ted Leonsis], you’re not gonna win that way. You can’t have [that many] of ‘em. We’ve got to get it to three or four, and then those other four spots we’ve got to get veteran guys in here that can teach these guys how to play. I said that’s what my belief is, and they believed it too, and that’s kind of what we’ve done.”

And so the plan shifted, from building through the draft, to building through free agency, trades, and the waiver wire. Now, with the team’s best start in decades and with the Wizards sitting as one of the four top teams in the Eastern Conference, the experience infusion seems wise, or at least effective. Hopefully the veteran turnstile keeps on turning in the years to come, because without a draft pick on the roster from the 2014 draft or a D-League affiliate, the farm is all dried up and the Wizards, once young (and awful), are one of the oldest teams in the league.

 

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Conor Dirks
Reporter / Writer / Co-Editor at TAI
Conor has been with TAI since 2012, and aids in the seamless editorial process that brings you the kind of high-octane blogging you have come to expect from this rad website. The Wizards have been an assiduous companion throughout his years on the cosmic waiver wire. He lives in D.C. and is day-to-day.