With the Wizards’ playoff chase limiting the chances for inexperienced players to see the court, rookie Glen Rice Jr. was sent down on Wednesday to the Iowa Energy of NBA Development League.
This is Rice’s second D-League assignment this season. The Wizards sent Rice to Iowa last month for a rehabilitation stint to help him regain his rhythm after missing nearly a month of action because of a broken right wrist. He is going back now just to have a chance to play.
Rice had a dominant showing in three D-League games, averaging 24.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 2.0 steals, and the Wizards brought him back into the fold. But Rice never saw the court after rejoining the team, spending most of his time watching games from the sideline in a suit while on the inactive list.
With Nene and Kevin Seraphin both out because of differing knee ailments on Tuesday, Rice finally got a chance to wear his uniform again but never removed his warmups as he served as a spectator for the Wizards’ 115-106 victory over the Orlando Magic.
On the same day that the Wizards added veteran big man Drew Gooden to the roster on a 10-day contract, the team left for a road trip through Toronto and Philadelphia that will not include Rice. Rice has appeared in just 11 games, including one start, for the Wizards this season and averaged 2.9 points.
Owner Ted Leonsis’s playoff demands have meant an abandonment from any sort of youth movement aside from 23-year-old John Wall and 20-year-old Bradley Beal. The Wizards traded 23-year-old Jan Vesely to acquire soon-to-be 38-year-old veteran Andre Miller. Veteran Al Harrington, who turned 34 last week, has returned from a right knee injury and is back in the regular rotation.
The addition of the 32-year-old Gooden means that the Wizards now have more players older than 30 (Miller, Harrington, Nene, Gooden and Gortat) than under 24 (Wall, Beal, Rice and Otto Porter Jr.). The average age of the team has gone up to 27. Last season, the Wizards spent most of the season with only two 30-somethings getting significant minutes in Nene and Emeka Okafor.
Beal, Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster have occupied all of the minutes on the perimeter, leaving Coach Randy Wittman with little use for his rookies this season. Porter, the third overall pick, appearing in just 24 games – and only two in February – since returning from a right hip injury that robbed him from training camp and the preseason. Wittman said the D-League could also be an option for Porter to get repetitions on the court, but so far, Rice has been the only 2013 draft pick to take the plunge.
Rice has familiarity with the D-League after spending last season with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.