Update, 4:15 p.m.: The Wizards officially announced they have waived Glen Rice Jr.
The move was expected. Washington initially sought to trade Rice, who has been with the D-League’s Fort Wayne Mad Ants since late November, but could not find a trade partner. The motivation to move Rice was twofold: The Wizards boast considerable depth on the wing and wanted roster flexibility as the postseason approaches and other teams release players.
By waiving Rice, 24, Washington will gain a valuable roster spot and some precious payroll space below the luxury-tax threshold. If the Wizards had kept him until Saturday, when NBA contracts become guaranteed for the remainder of the season, they would’ve had slightly more than $50,000 available under the luxury tax. The Wizards needed to waive Rice by Wednesday so he could clear waivers over the next 48 hours and be off the books by Saturday.
Rice, 24, was a second-round draft pick in 2013 so his contract was only partially guaranteed. Letting him go frees up an additional $416,000 in salary cap space for the Wizards in case they want to add player via trade or through free agency.
Late last season, Washington traded for point guard Andre Miller and signed big man Drew Gooden to improve their middling bench, and both veterans played key roles in their run to the second round of the playoffs.
Rice was sent down to the D-League on Nov. 20, but hasn’t appeared in the last five games for the Mad Ants and was occupying one of the 15 spots on the Wizards’ roster.
Rice was expected to compete for a spot in Coach Randy Wittman’s rotation this season after earning MVP honors at the Las Vegas Summer League. He appeared in five of the Wizards’ first six games, but his on-court struggles, an exchange of words with Wittman during a game against the Toronto Raptors on Nov. 7, and Rasual Butler’s emergence pushed Rice to the end of the bench and eventually to Fort Wayne.
Rice shot 20 percent from the field and didn’t play another minute for the Wizards after he and Wittman squabbled as he walked off the floor in Toronto. Butler, 35, then seized his role and has become an indispensable cog for Washington, shooting 49 percent from three and compiling 11 double-digit point games.
As a result, the Wizards will retain Butler, a training camp invite, beyond Jan. 10, which will make his one-year, $1.4 million contract — the minimum for veterans with at least 10 years experience in the NBA — guaranteed.