The Washington Wizards have released Glen Rice Jr., according to J. Michael of CSN Washington. The move doesn't come as a surprise, after reports came out over the weekend that the Wizards were preparing to part ways with their second round pick from the 2013 draft ahead of Wednesday's deadline to guarantee contracts for the rest of the season.
The move brings a quick end to Rice's time in Washington, which started out with considerable promise. Rice was acquired by the Wizards in a draft day trade in 2013, where the Wizards gave up two second round picks to move up and take Rice with the 35th overall pick, after a stellar season with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the D-League.
Rice only played 11 games with the Wizards his rookie year. He spent most of the season either injured, stuck on the bench behind Bradley Beal and Martell Webster, or getting playing time in the D-League, where he averaged 17.2 points per game during two different D-League assignments.
He appeared to turn a corner over the summer, when he led the Wizards to the Vegas Summer League semifinals, averaging 25 points per game and earning Summer League MVP honors for his performance. Things appeared to get even better for Rice when injuries to Bradley Beal and Martell Webster created an opportunity for him to solidify his place in their absence.
Unfortunately for Rice, he still couldn't earn consistent minutes, even when he was only competing with Garrett Temple and Rasual Butler for playing time. Rice only played spot minutes in five games for the Wizards this season before he was once again sent down to the D-League. According to CSN Washington's J. Michael, an incident in his final appearance as a Wizard sealed his fate in Washington:
The final nail in Rice’s stay here, however, was determined to be attitude, people with knowledge of the situation said. Coming into the league, the Wizards knew that was a red flag but thought he could work through it. He turned off several teams during the pre-draft process and that manifested itself in a blowup with coach Randy Wittman in a 19-point loss to the Toronto Raptors on Nov. 7. Rice was pulled from the game and went at Wittman in front of the bench. Rice never played again and was gone two weeks later.
You can see their exchange at the 25 second mark of this video.
Rice, who turned 24 on New Year's Day, scored 43 points with the Wizards in 152 minutes of action over 16 games. By comparison, Rice scored 150 points in 192 minutes of action with the Wizards' Summer League team in Las Vegas. While it's disappointing to see the Wizards give up on Rice after less than two seasons, it's hard to justify keeping him on the roster.
The jaw-dropping he numbers Rice put up in the D-League and in Vegas Summer League action haven't translated to production on the NBA level, and it's not just because he's not getting playing time. As a Wizard, he was 14-52 from the field and 6-24 on threes. Those numbers are hard to justify even for a defensive stud, much less someone who was drafted to provide an offensive spark for the Wizards off the bench.
The move leaves one roster spot open for the Wizards, who can use the spot to address a need as it presents itself. The move also ensures that Rasual Butler, who made the team as a training camp invitee, will have his contract guaranteed for the remainder of the season.
UPDATE: J. Michael has more on Rice's final days as a Wizard, and how Garrett Temple has encouraged Rice.