I imagine last season did not unfold according to Von Wafer’s plan.
His season began with a fist fight against Delonte West, which Wafer may or may not have leaked to the press. Shortly after the fight, one Celtic (maybe Wafer) was quoted as saying it’s obvious when West does not take his medicine. Wafer’s season continued with an uphill battle for playing time, with Wafer often wearing his warmup shirt all game long. His defense did not match Doc Rivers’s standards and the shooting touch he showed in Houston abandoned him.
Just when Wafer finally began playing “Celtics basketball” and earning praise from Rivers, the team experienced a slew of injuries that could have opened playing opportunities for Wafer. But he fell victim to a calf injury that kept him out of commission for almost a month. By the time the playoffs arrived, Wafer was an afterthought, a seat warmer, and third string behind Jeff Green and Delonte West.
Still, he’s open to a Boston return. Shockingly, Wafer has never played two consecutive seasons with the same team. If the lockout persists, Wafer could explore contract options overseas.
“Von would love to be back [with Boston],” Wafer’s agent, Terrance Doyle, told ESPN. “He’s never gotten that opportunity to go back with a team.”
After Wafer’s stormy beginning to the season, I vowed I would never like him. He fought Delonte West, made remarks about wanting more playing time, played defense with the attention span of an ADD-riddled 13-year old, and as the cherry on top, shot like a blind ferret whenever he received a chance to play. But somewhere along the way, he matured. Rarely do players grow up in a single season, but if my perception is correct, Wafer did. His coaches began to praise him. Teammates supported him. He changed a couple games with his defensive effort. He learned how to impact contests when his shot wasn’t falling. He stopped overdribbling and learned how to play a role on a championship contender, even when he was not afforded the playing time to make a difference.
Doyle said Wafer learned a lot from Boston’s veterans, and I get the feeling that is not just the lip service of an agent hoping his player gets more work. Wafer entered last season with a poor reputation. He was a firecracker who got kicked out of a playoff game by Rick Adelman and later made no friends in Greece, where his European team grew tired of his act and moved on. Wafer could shoot and he could score, but there were serious issues regarding his attitude. Then Boston happened, and Wafer finally stopped acting out. He became a sponge, listening to Rivers and soliciting advice from his older teammates. He changed.
That change wasn’t enough to boost Wafer into the starting lineup, or even into the rotation. As much as his attitude improved, Wafer’s shooting touch went into hiding and he never did find it. He showed flashes of the offensive instincts that made him desirable in the first place, but he never showed consistent production. Still, even after struggling on the court, Wafer might have raised his stock among NBA front offices. He can still score; GMs know that, even if he did not score much last season. And now he’s a bit smarter, a bit more mature, a bit less likely to seek trouble.
Wafer lucked into the perfect learning situation, and he took advantage of it. And even though I vowed never to like the guy, I will now root for him wherever he goes. He converted me.