By now, Glen Rice Jr. is accustomed to letting his birthday pass without getting much individual attention.
“Everybody kind of counts down for the new year, so it’s really not even like my birthday,” said Rice, who turned 23 on Jan. 1.
But Rice was able to have a memorable birthday on Wednesday, since he woke up with the stitches removed from his surgically-repaired right wrist.
“Yeah,” he said. “Just knowing that I’m getting better and that time is decreasing in how much longer I have to sit down.”
Rice had surgery on Dec. 18 to repair a fracture on his wrist and will miss at least another two weeks. With the stitches removed, Rice has now been cleared to do more running and conditioning. He has also been limited to working on his ball-handling since he is still unable to shoot and participate in contact drills.
“Being able to flick my wrist, trying to strengthen the muscles, my forearm, shoulder. That type of stuff,” said Rice, who is averaging 2.9 points and 1.8 rebounds in 11 games, including one start, for the Wizards. His return “really depends on how it’ll feel, when I can take pressure.”
The Wizards (14-15) aren’t pressed for Rice to return anytime soon, with Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster all healthy and Otto Porter Jr. working his way back into a rhythm. But Rice is still finding ways to get better even while sidelined.
While restrained to a cast, Rice tried to stay engaged by working his defense against Beal. Rice would attempt to keep Beal from scoring and contested shots with his left hand.
“That’s really the only thing I could do. I couldn’t catch the ball or shoot it,” Rice said. “Just come out there and having a little fun. Getting any type of competition in. Us being competitors, the way we are, you like to compete in something.”
Al Harrington has returned to the team after having surgery on Dec. 9 in Vail, Colo., to remove loose particles in his right knee. Harrington rehabbed in Vail and later Houston before joining the team in Minnesota.
After Friday’s shoot-around, Harrington went to the court and took some standstill jumpers, but he still has not been cleared to start participating in contact drills. He is expected to get re-evaluated in a week or so to determine a timeline for his return. Harrington was signed to a one-year deal to help solidify the bench, but Coach Randy Wittman has found a reliable rotation in recent weeks, with Nene boosting the production of reserves while coming off the bench because of his minute restriction.