(Good D, Rudy.)
The man can score. He’s kind of like a taller Nate Robinson, or maybe a poor man’s J.R. Smith. He can fill it up in a hurry and he can even play a little defense. And now he’s a Boston Celtic.
In case you didn’t know, I’m talking about Von Wafer. The guy knows how to play — or, at least, he did when we last saw him play in the NBA, back in 2008-2009 with the Houston Rockets. Back then, he was always a threat to score 20. He could get to the hoop with a vengeance or he could stop behind the arc and make it rain. Instant offense, there’s no doubt about it. And if you didn’t know any better, you’d probably think I’m drooling right now.
But no, I’m not. Because while Wafer is a talent, he’s also a bit of a headcase. He and Rick Adelman feuded, pretty publicly. Wafer played a nice role in Houston, coming off the bench to supply scoring, and then wasn’t offered a contract after his final season in Houston was up. There are reasons for things like that. We see everything he did on the court, but I imagine his feuds with Adelman went even deeper than we know. Wafer ended up overseas for a decent payday, but he quickly fell out of favor with his coach there. Seeing little playing time in a country he didn’t recognize, Mr. Buckets negotiated a buyout, packed his bags and plotted a return to the NBA. Which is when, umm, he failed two physicals, eventually signed a ten-day contract with the Dallas Mavericks and then never saw the floor once. Again, there are reasons for things like that.
But let’s imagine Wafer is fully healthy. Let’s imagine he won’t be too big a pain in Doc Rivers’ rump. Would he still be a perfect fit? To be honest, I’m not so sure. I just don’t know if two fire-happy coach-killers fit on the same bench.
Nate Robinson was, is, and probably always will be a designated gunner off the bench. Doc Rivers gave him the green light from day one last year, and while Nate was hesitant at times to pull the trigger because of his newfound role on a contender, he’s at his best when he can shoot, shoot and shoot some more. Coincidentally, so is Wafer. The first time Wafer passes up a semi-open shot next year will also be the first of his career. That’s just who he is, a man who possesses an utter lack of bashfulness on the court. Do two of those guys fit on the same bench? It doesn’t seem ideal, does it?
That’s not to say I don’t have hope for Wafer. It may be my offseason beer goggles talking, but I can still see him in Houston tickling the twine. If Von Wafer is still the Von Wafer I remember (and after two failed physicals, there’s no guarantee he is), he’s still a guy who can score against any defender in the Association. And if the Von Wafer I remember can learn how to co-exist with Mr. Robinson and if he can remain peaceful with Doc Rivers (which I imagine he will — Doc is the type of guy who could get Osama Bin Laden to buy into Ubuntu), the Celtics suddenly have as explosive a bench as this league offers.
A few big ifs, maybe, but there remains a possibility that Vanilla Wafer was one of the real steals this offseason had to offer. After all, if you had traded him for Tony Allen last offseason we would have all jumped for joy and done nude victory laps underneath the night sky. But now we’re just unsure what he’ll offer. Or, you know, if he’ll offer anything at all.