Former Breakers player Glen Rice Jr has been allowed to leave the country and return to the United States despite facing a serious violence charge.
The 29-year-old American was arrested last November and charged with assault with intent to injure after an incident at an Auckland bar.
Today, the nearly 2m-tall swingman was due to appear again in the Auckland District Court.
However, he was missing, with rumours circulating that Rice had left New Zealand some time ago.
Rice's lawyer, Peter Tomlinson, confirmed the situation.
He asked Judge Emma Parsons to excuse his client's attendance for today's hearing.
So where was Rice? Texas, his lawyer said.
Tomlinson cited the global Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse for the basketballer's absence and inability to return to New Zealand and face the charge.
The judge pardoned Rice's absence from today's hearing, but also noted the unusual situation of continuing his bail without forcing him to comply with its conditions.
Rice, who has played for the Washington Wizards and was a second-round pick in the 2013 NBA draft, had joined the Breakers just 10 days prior to the alleged assault as an injury replacement.
Just a couple of weeks after his arrest, however, Rice was in trouble again after allegedly breaching his bail conditions. It lead to the Breakers tearing up his contract.
During Rice's first court appearance, Breakers owner Matt Walsh was sitting alongside him and told media afterwards that the club would let the matter "play out" through the justice system.
The case will be back in court again in August, when a date for a judge-alone trial is to be set. Judge Parsons has already excused Rice's attendance for that hearing.
Rice, who is the son of former NBA star and champion Glen Rice, has earlier pleaded not guilty to the charge.