<
>

NZ Breakers sack NBL import Rice Jnr

The short but tumultuous NBL career of Glen Rice Jnr is over, with the NZ Breakers saying they will part ways with the former NBA star no matter the result of assault charges against him.

The Kiwi club said in a statement it would "indefinitely suspend" Rice after his early morning arrest last week following an incident at an Auckland bar.

It is effectively a sacking as Breakers owner Walsh said the 28-year-old wouldn't play for the club again.

Walsh said the club would support Rice at a court hearing on Wednesday in Auckland, but would then release the ex-NBA player, who arrived in New Zealand with a chequered background.

He said new information about the incident had come to his attention on Monday which left Rice's future in an untenable position as far as the Breakers were concerned.

"I respect our legal process in New Zealand and firmly believe that you are innocent until proven guilty," Walsh said.

"However, regardless of the outcome of Glen's court appearance, there is no denying he has let down the club, our fans and the New Zealand public after we gave him this lifeline.

"I feel it is my duty to assist Glen in paying his accommodation, legal and medical costs while he remains in our country to settle his business.

"But I also have no option but to remove him from the team."

Walsh was criticised earlier this month when signing Rice because of his history off the court, including several brushes with law in the United States.

The deal was initially defended by Walsh, who said he wanted to give the former Washington Wizards' player a shot at redemption, noting Rice had previously forged a close bond with Breakers coach Dan Shamir.

The one-time Wizards' shooting guard, son of three-time NBA All-Star Glen Rice Snr, showed signs of his class in two games.

However, news of the alleged assault shocked the club.

"I put structures in place, which I thought would prevent any problems happening, but I was wrong," Walsh said.

"In many ways, I feel responsible in a situation where there are no winners.

"Glen is a tremendously talented basketballer, but I expect our players to be professional both on and off the court."

The Breakers said Rice had accepted an offer from Walsh for "professional medical help" and the player had his first appointment after arriving in Auckland on Monday morning from Perth.

An 88-77 loss to Perth on Sunday - without Rice, who had been ordered to pull out by the NBL - continued a disastrous start to the season for the four-time champion Breakers. They have slumped to the bottom of the ladder with a 2-7 record.

Walsh was the subject of negative headlines himself last week when fined $5000 and banned for two weeks for a verbal altercation with NBL commissioner Jeremy Loeliger during their previous game away to South East Melbourne.

Walsh had the suspension reduced to one game and part of his fine suspended on appeal.