Rice Activated but Won't Play Yet

Times Staff Writer

The Clippers activated forward Glen Rice and put forward Elton Brand on the injured list as expected Saturday before their game against the Orlando Magic at Staples Center.

But Coach Mike Dunleavy opted not to play Rice and said the veteran would not take the floor until Tuesday against Cleveland at the earliest as he tries to get back into playing shape after a monthlong layoff caused by a hyper-extended right knee.

"He won't be in my immediate rotation just because, from a conditioning standpoint, he's had one practice," Dunleavy said. "You have to have your legs [to play]. He's not going to be able to make shots from [long] range unless he has his legs."

Dunleavy said he expects Rice, whom the Clippers signed last month as a free agent, to play by Saturday against Minnesota at the latest. Rice averaged 18.6 points and 4.4 rebounds over the first 14 years of his career, but the Clippers won't expect anywhere near that level of statistical contribution as he regains his stamina over the next several weeks.

"Ultimately, we expect him to be a guy who's a veteran player, a smart player," Dunleavy said. "He can come in and give us some help off the bench. He's got the ability to make long-range shots, he can post up and he knows how to play the game."

Brand, who has missed the Clippers' last five games after breaking his right foot in the season opener, is not expected to return until late this month at the earliest. He must remain on the injured list a minimum of five games.

One upside to Brand's injury is that it has allowed second-year forward Chris Wilcox the opportunity to flourish. Wilcox was averaging 13.8 points in 29.8 minutes per game before Saturday.

"We have a young group," Dunleavy said. "They're like plants. If you water them enough, they grow. It's been very positive for us."


Brand, Corey Maggette and Quentin Richardson are the Clipper representatives among 120 players listed on ballots that will determine the starters for the NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 15 at Staples Center. Also on the ballot are three of their former Clipper teammates: Michael Olowokandi of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Lamar Odom of the Miami Heat and Andre Miller of the Denver Nuggets.

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