Boston Celtics: Von Wafer

Elsa/Getty ImagesVon Wafer is off to Italy during the NBA lockout.
Von Wafer has agreed to a deal to play for Italian team Vanoli Cremona, according to his agent. Wafer, an unrestricted free agent who spent the 2010-11 season with the Celtics, secured a coveted opt-out clause and will be able to return stateside should the lockout end during the international season.

Wafer averaged 3.2 points, 0.8 rebounds, and 0.6 assists over 9.5 minutes per game last season. He appeared in 58 games for Boston and seemed to be asserting himself before a late-season calf injury limited his playing time into the playoffs.

Last month, Wafer's agent, Terrance Doyle of the Veritas Venture Group, suggested his client would be interested in a return engagement with the Celtics.

"Von would love to be back [with Boston]," Doyle said of the 6-foot-5 swingman who has played for seven teams since being drafted by the Lakers in the second round (35th overall) of the 2005 draft. "He's never gotten that opportunity to go back with a team."

Wafer signed a one-year, non-guaranteed deal with the Celtics last August and fended off numerous charges at his roster spot and endured a locker room dust-up with teammate Delonte West to stick for the entire campaign. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge often voiced praise for Wafer and he would seemingly be a candidate to fill out the end of the Boston bench next season should the team need a depth swingman.

This will be Wafer's second voyage overseas. He chased an international payday following a breakout season with the Houston Rockets in 2009, but soon parted ways with Greek squad Olympiakos. After earning $915,852 on a minimum contract last season (and roughly $3 million in NBA contracts over six seasons), this overseas opportunity allows Wafer to earn some cash and keep sharp while waiting for the owners and players to work out a new collective bargaining agreement.

Venoli Cremona competes in Italy's Lega Serie A, the same highly regarded league that Celtics second-round draft pick E'Twaun Moore is set to join (Moore signed with Benetton Treviso last month).
Elsa/Getty ImagesA calf injury detoured Von Wafer late in the 2010-11 season.
In six NBA seasons, Von Wafer has never had the opportunity to return to the team he ended the previous campaign with and build upon that experience. While committed to exploring all options this offseason -- including potentially heading back overseas if the NBA lockout lingers -- Wafer wouldn't be opposed to a return engagement with the Boston Celtics, according to his agent Terrance Doyle of the Veritas Venture Group.

Wafer appeared in 58 games for Boston last season, averaging 3.2 points over 9.5 minutes per game. A calf injury in early March detoured him at maybe the worst possible time, but Wafer did get healthy enough to appear in three playoff games.

"Von would love to be back [with Boston]," Doyle said of the 6-foot-5 swingman who has played for seven teams since being drafted by the Lakers in the second round (35th overall) of the 2005 draft. "He's never gotten that opportunity to go back with a team."

Inked last August, Wafer had to fend off challenges for his roster spot during training camp and endured a locker room dust-up with teammate Delonte West early in the season. Although Wafer was on a non-guaranteed minimum contract, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge offered consistent praise and Wafer survived the duration of the season, including February's bench overhaul. In fact, that roster flux nearly opened some doors for Wafer, but a calf injury in early March kept him off the court for nearly a month and prevented Wafer from playing his way into a larger role.

While Boston's first-round draft pick JaJuan Johnson snagged Wafer's No. 12 at last Monday's rookie introductions, Wafer remains a potential free agent option for depth at the swingman spot. Boston's desire to keep him might depend on whether the team can re-sign combo guard West, and whether Gilbert Brown, the undrafted shooting guard out of Pittsburgh who's also represented by Doyle, can earn a spot on the team once the lockout is over.

Doyle said Wafer has a better idea of what's expected of him after last season and stressed that Wafer learned a lot from Boston's veteran leaders. Wafer will draw interest from teams hoping he can rekindle what made him an effective bench presence in Houston during the 2008-09 season, when he averaged 9.7 points over 19.4 minutes per game. Wafer shot only 26.9 percent from beyond the arc last season, down from 39 percent in Houston, and coach Doc Rivers worked hard to get him to buy into the defense-first system. Even still, Wafer showed glimpses of what makes him an intriguing depth option.

Wafer chased an overseas payday with Greek squad Olympiakos after his breakout 2009 season, but soon returned stateside hoping to find another NBA job (he inked a 10-day contract with the Mavericks in February 2010). Doyle suggested Wafer might explore overseas options again depending on the length of the lockout.

Hop HERE for more on Wafer, including last month's Grab Bag about whether Wafer deserves another year in Boston.

Grab bag: More Wafer?

June, 14, 2011
During the slower times this offseason (of which there could be many in a bummer summer with a potential lockout looming), we’ll occasionally reach into our Celtics Mailbag and pull out a question to field in the blog. Hop HERE to submit a question:

Elsa/Getty ImagesShould the Celtics bring back Von Wafer next season?
Q: So what's most likely to happen to Von Wafer? Seems to me the kid is as skilled and athletic as any available wing around the league. -- Greg (Atlanta, Ga.)

A: Wafer never quite materialized into the X-factor that captain Paul Pierce suggested he could be before the season started. Wafer managed to fend off all sorts of charges at his roster spot through training camp (holding off Stephane Lasme and Mario West) and the early portion of the regular season (an altercation with Delonte West left some wondering if the C's might cut ties before his minimum contract went fully guaranteed), but merely showed glimpses of potential on the court and a late-season calf injury derailed him at the worst possible time.

The Celtics are looking at the likelihood of having to fill as many as nine roster openings this offseason as only the postseason starting 5 (Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jermaine O'Neal) and Avery Bradley are currently under contract for the 2011-12 season (Jeff Green is a restricted free agent who the team indicated will get a qualifying offer before the late June deadline).

Unless Boston fills up the wing position with veteran talent willing to play for low wages, it's likely the Celtics could explore the idea of bringing back Wafer. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge stood in staunch support of Wafer throughout the season and it'd have been interesting to see if Wafer could have built some momentum for himself if not for the early March calf injury that sidelined him for nearly a month (this while the Boston roster was in flux and roles were for the taking).

The positives: Wafer's been in the system now and both player and coach know what to expect from one other. There's something to be said for continuity on this team, particularly as much of the bench is set for an overhaul. The negatives: Wafer shot a dismal 26.9 percent from 3-point land and never proved to be an offensive spark in limited minutes (his higher point totals always came with higher minutes, something that Rivers can't always consistently offer a bench player).

The guess here is that Boston will take a wait-and-see approach with Wafer. If the Celtics add a more veteran contributor behind Pierce and feel comfortable with the depth there (assuming Green is back as well), Wafer could be looking for his eighth NBA team in an already well-traveled career (that also included a stop overseas). If Boston ultimately has the roster space and the need for another wing, don't rule out a return engagement.

Alright, mailbag general managers, what's your take? Do you want to see Wafer back in Boston. Sound off in the comments.

Report card: Von Wafer

May, 29, 2011
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesVon Wafer had his moments -- good and bad -- during the 2010-11 season with Boston.
Over the next few weeks, we'll take a player-by-player look at the Celtics' 2010-11 roster and how each player's season unfolded, assigning a grade for their overall performance. This is the 13th in the series of report cards:

Player: Von Wafer
2010-11 averages: 3.2 points, 0.8 rebounds, 0.6 assists
2010-11 salary: $854,389

Season in a paragraph: Nothing came easy for Wafer this season. From fending off furious charges in training camp to earn a final roster spot, to an early season scuffle with teammate Delonte West, to an ill-time calf injury as he was playing some of his most inspired ball of the season, it was a never-ending grind just to stay on the court for a player that was with his seventh NBA team in his six seasons (with a Greek flirtation mixed in). Wafer never quite developed into the X-Factor that Paul Pierce suggested before the season he had potential to be, but provided serviceable depth at the wing position.

Season highlight: When Marquis Daniels suffered the frightening spine injury in early February that ended his season, Wafer got thrust into a larger role as Pierce's primary backup. During a nationally televised blockbuster against the Heat on Feb. 13, Wafer chipped in 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting, hitting a pair of 3-pointers, while adding 2 rebounds and 2 steals over 14 minutes in an 85-82 triumph at TD Garden. Wafer played steady minutes through the month until ...

Season lowlight: Despite erupting for seven points in five minutes during a visit from the Golden State Warriors on Feb. 4, Wafer landed awkwardly while trying to chase Golden State's Monta Ellis on a layup with 10:29 to play in the second quarter. He immediately grabbed at the right calf, then hobbled off the court and straight to the locker room. He'd sit out the next 13 games and played a total of seven minutes in his first seven games back before earning a pair of starts as Boston rested its starters to close out the regular season. (Dishonorable mention: A blown dunk in the Washington game that was maybe the most head-shaking moment of the season).

Final grade: C+

Teacher's notes: The Celtics were hoping for 2008-09 Wafer, who averaged career highs of 9.7 points per game and shot 39 percent beyond the 3-point line while helping the Rockets into the postseason. Instead, Boston got non-2008-09 Wafer, a player that appeared in just 75 games during his first three NBA seasons and had little impact on the final box score. To his credit, Wafer, who deadpanned that he had heard about his poor defensive reputation on the first day he met the Boston media in August, bought into Boston's defensive-first mentality and that eventually helped him get on the court. But Wafer shot a mere 26.9 percent beyond the arc in Boston and mostly thrived going at the rim. Once Jeff Green was brought in, Wafer fell on the depth chart and logged only five minutes in two appearances in the postseason.

What's next?: Wafer is an unrestricted free agent and seems destined to extend that journeyman status for a chance to play somewhere that can offer him more minutes. The Celtics would seemingly have some interest in keeping him around for low-cost, perimeter depth and he showed quality glimpses. But with Pierce and Green in place, his minutes would remain limited here.

Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.

Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Wafer's 2010-11 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Wanna get away?

April, 12, 2011
Yes, Celtics guard Von Wafer committed one of the more head-shaking plays in recent memory during Monday's loss to the Washington Wizards. But nice to see him having fun at his own expense on Twitter a day later.

Wafer slashed to the hoop with a chance to put the Celtics up four just two minutes into the overtime session Monday. But his emphatic attempt at a one-handed jam bounced hard off the iron. A seemingly unaware Wafer exulted in front of the home crowd below the baseline before starting to backpedal. That's when he bumped into Jermaine O'Neal, who had hauled in the offensive rebound, but the collision forced O'Neal to double dribble. Just a mess of a sequence.

The good news for Wafer is that, beyond that gaffe and a missed free throw at the end of regulation, he put together a solid night, chipping in 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting with two assists, a rebound, and a steal over 44:39. What's more, Wafer's defense was better than expected and if he can maintain the intensity on that side of the ball, he's got a chance to edge fellow wing reserve Sasha Pavlovic for a final spot on the 12-man active playoff roster (Pavlovic, however, has more size and could still sneak on with a solid showing Wednesday).

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Celtics got a player back during Thursday's practice at the Sports Authority Training Center at HealthPoint, but it wasn't the eagerly anticipated return of Shaquille O'Neal.

No, the Diesel remains in the garage for at least another day, but reserve guard Von Wafer, who has missed the last 10 games after straining his right calf in a win over Golden State on Feb. 4, engaged in his most heightened basketball activities since the injury.

Wafer participated fully in the practice, including the scrimmage sessions, then returned to the court after for additional shooting. He was waiting to see how it responds to the activity.

"We'll see how it feels in the morning," said Wafer. "We'll probably know better then."

Wafer traveled with the team on its recently completed three-game road trip, but only engaged in light activities, mostly shooting drills. While Celtics coach Doc Rivers said before Wednesday's loss to the Memphis Grizzlies that Wafer was still a ways out from returning, the reserve shooting guard is optimistic about his recovery thus far.

"I was thinking I'd probably be out for a few more days," admitted Wafer. "I think I did come back faster than I thought."

Now he's hoping he can do the same for game action, particularly as the Celtics start the process of identifying their 12-man playoff roster. If Wafer can get back to the level he was playing at before the injury, he has a chance to earn a final spot, maybe over another backup wing like Sasha Pavlovic.

"I'm thinking about getting back healthy and trying to come back stronger than when I left," said Wafer. "That's all I'm concerned about. If I get to play, or if I don't, either way I won't be disappointed. You never know what to expect."

A few other quick hits from practice:

* Celtics reserve forward Troy Murphy rolled his right ankle and limped off the court late in the session. The team has dubbed it a mild sprain and he's listed as day-to-day.

* Celtics coach Doc Rivers gave himself a day off from media obligations and instead allowed assistants Armond Hill and Kevin Eastman to chat with reporters. Rivers does not typically allow his assistants to discuss basketball matters with reporters, so it was a rare opportunity to get insight from two of Rivers' right-hand men. More from them later (but you can check out a bit in the video in the playlist embedded above).

* There was a lot of chatter about the final possessions in Wednesday's loss to the Grizzlies with Hill and Eastman detailing how Rivers apologized to his team before Thursday's session for not making better decisions, including calling a timeout when Boston had a chance to go ahead with under 30 seconds to play in a one-point game.
Elsa/Getty ImagesDoc Rivers doesn't expect Von Wafer back on the court any time soon.
BOSTON -- Celtics reserve swingman Von Wafer shed his walking boot Wednesday and said he's hopeful he won't be sidelined too long, but coach Doc Rivers wasn't nearly as optimistic, suggesting Wafer could be out two to three weeks -- and potentially longer -- due to a sprained right calf suffered in Friday's win over the Golden State Warriors.

"Von’s going to be out for a while," said Rivers. "It's not torn, I don’t know what the actual injury is, but he’s going to be out for quite a while."

Pressed if that meant potentially the rest of the regular season, Rivers added: "No, he'll return. But it'll be two weeks, maybe three. Maybe longer."

Wafer hobbled around the locker room, but expressed a desire to get back on the court as quick as possible. With Boston so shorthanded, he knows he's missing an opportunity for increased playing time. But Wafer said he's trying not to let an ill-timed injury eat at him.

"I don't even think about it; It is what it is," he said, giving the Belichick-tradedmarked phrase an exaggerated drawl. "I can't even think about what-ifs. It probably wouldn't do anything but make me upset."

Rivers suggested that Glen Davis (left patella tendon strain) would likely be the first of Boston's five injured bodies back on the court, with Delonte West (sprained right ankle) following soon after. Davis has missed the last two games after tweaking an ailing knee last Wednesday against the Phoenix Suns and is expected to miss two more games, but will practice Saturday with eyes towards returning as early as Sunday's visit from Milwaukee.

West has missed the last four games and has yet to return to practice, but Rivers noted previously that he'd throw West right back into the fire as soon as he's healthy enough.

Shaquille O'Neal (right foot injuries) gave a timeline Monday that could put him back on the court as early as next Wednesday's visit from the Indiana Pacers. Jermaine O'Neal (left knee surgery) had been pegged for a late March/early April return, but hasn't addressed the media since going under the knife last month.

Rivers said Wednesday that he'll throw newly acquired point guard Carlos Arroyo right into the fire Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers.

"Oh, I'm going to use him," said Rivers. "Look at our team right now, we have four starters that have been here, then everyone else is new and a rookie. So they'll all have to play. It's a tough team because the Clippers have size. Most of our size is out. So foul trouble is a major concern. We basically have [starters] Nenad [Krstic] and Kevin [Garnett], then after that, we get small quick."

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Tuesday that Glen Davis (left knee strain), Von Wafer (right calf sprain) and Delonte West (right ankle sprain) will all sit out Wednesday's visit from the Los Angeles Clippers.

With Shaquille O'Neal (right foot injuries) and Jermaine O'Neal (left knee surgery) also sidelined for the foreseeable future, that leaves Boston with only 10 healthy bodies. That's still one more than they were able to dress Sunday in Milwaukee as newly acquired Carlos Arroyo practiced with the team for the first time Tuesday and will be active for Wednesday's game.

The Celtics were hopeful to have at least West back by this point, but will instead rely on new faces like Arroyo to drive down escalating minutes for Boston's starters. West has missed the last four games since injuring the ankle in an informal workout during the team's four-game road trip coming out of the All-Star break.

"[Delonte] is not going to play tomorrow and I think he's doubtful for Friday [at Philadelphia] as well," said Rivers. "We're hoping for Sunday [vs. Milwaukee]."

Davis, who had been battling left knee tendinitis before aggravating the injury last week against the Phoenix Suns, has missed the last two games and will likely sit out two more, even as he declared himself in better shape Tuesday.

"Baby said he felt great today," said Rivers. "But we're going to hold him out for the next two games for sure."

That means extra minutes for newcomers Jeff Green and Troy Murphy at the power forward spot. A luxury Boston didn't have before last month's trade deadline.

Said Davis: "I'm getting a lot of rest, getting a lot of stem and ice, watching a lot of film. I'm trying to drop some [pounds] before the playoffs start, so I can be out there jumping like a jack rabbit."

Davis said he hoped to return to the practice court soon and stressed that, if this were the postseason, he'd be back on the floor already. Instead, much like others that are currently on the shelf (or have been there before), Boston is taking advantage of the time it has before the playoffs arrive, putting a premium on long-term health.

"I’m not going to push them," said Rivers. "Yeah, the clock is ticking, there's no doubt... But the one thing I told [team trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] is taht we need them on the floor, but we need them healthy, too. We're going to choose health first."

The news on Wafer isn't encouraging. Still wearing a walking boot since spraining the calf Friday against the Golden State Warriors, he is expected to miss at least another week.

Said Rivers: "He's going to miss a while. He's nowhere close to coming back."

Wafer sidelined by right calf strain

March, 4, 2011

BOSTON -- Celtics reserve guard Von Wafer sported an oversized walking boot following Friday's win over the Golden State Warriors and said he'd be sidelined for a few days after suffering a right calf sprain.

Comcast SportsNet ScreenshotVon Wafer (lower right) grabs at his strained calf.
"I feel alright, just a little sore," said Wafer. "I'll be out for a few days... I think I just sprained a muscle, that's all."

Wafer appeared to land awkwardly while trying to chase Golden State's Monta Ellis on a layup with 10:29 to play in the second quarter. Wafer immediately grabbed at the right calf, then hobbled off the court and headed straight to the locker room with team trainers in pursuit.

Used sparingly over the past five games, Wafer connected on 3-of-4 shots for seven points over 5:28 before suffering the injury. The initial report from the team was that he was likely to return later in the game, but he was ruled out after halftime.

"It's not frustrating, it's just what happened," said Wafer. "So I've got to deal with it. It's not frustrating, I'm just going to try to get back as fast as I can."

Wafer is the latest Celtic stung by the injury bug. The team was already playing without Delonte West (sprained right ankle), Glen Davis (left knee strain), Shaquille O'Neal (inflamed right Achilles), and Jermaine O'Neal (left knee surgery).

*[Blog updated from original in-game injury report]

Wafer ready for LeBron

February, 13, 2011
Elsa/Getty ImagesVon Wafer's struggles vs. Kobe Bryant might not have been all his fault, according to Doc Rivers.
The Celtics have squared off against LeBron James enough over the last four seasons to understand the pitfalls that arise when it comes time to combat him on the defensive end of the floor.

Standing 6-foot-8 and weighing 250 pounds, it's nearly impossible for any one defender to slow him down when he decides to take the ball to the rim. The situation will be even more dire than usual on Sunday afternoon, when the Celtics will play host to the Miami Heat without the services of reserve swingman Marquis Daniels, who remains out of action after suffering a bruised spinal cord in last week's win over the Orlando Magic.

Daniels' absence leaves the Celtics extremely thin at the small forward position, with Celtics captain Paul Pierce left over as the Celtics' only true option when it comes to defending James.

One player Boston will try to lean on is Von Wafer, who played 20 minutes on Thursday night in the Celtics' 92-86 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers and even spent time guarding Kobe Bryant. While it was Bryant's complete offensive game that put Wafer in a bind at times defensively, it will be James' physicality that poses the greatest threat on Sunday afternoon. Wafer checks in at 6-foot-5, 209 pounds, meaning he's ceding three inches and nearly 50 pounds to the Miami forward. After the Celtics practiced at the Sports Authority Training Center at HealthPoint on Saturday afternoon, Wafer acknowledged he'll have to be physical in his attempts to defend James, all while stressing the importance of teamwork in the matter.

(Read full post)

Two sides to this Wafer

January, 27, 2011
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesVon Wafer drives to the basket Tuesday vs. the Cavaliers.
BOSTON -- When the Boston Celtics signed Von Wafer to a partially guaranteed contract worth the veteran's minimum this offseason, the general consensus appeared to be that the C's were adding a veteran 3-point shooter.

Elsa/Getty ImagesKevin Garnett greets Von Wafer as he comes off the floor.
Go ahead, Google it. A search for "Celtics sign Von Wafer" brings up links with headlines such as: "Celtics sign 3-point shooter Wafer", "Celtics sign Von Wafer to be designated gunner off the bench", and "Celtics add shooter in Von Wafer." No headlines proclaimed him as a player who aggressively attacks the rim off the dribble, which is interesting, considering Wafer himself tabs that as a key component of his overall game.

"I love to get in there, try to create," Wafer said after the Celtics' 112-95 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday, in which he scored 10 points in a season-high 22 minutes. "That's the most important thing. If you can get to the basket, you can create for yourself, as well as others. That's what I try to do in my game."

Wafer's game this season has been predicated more on driving to the basket than on converting 3-point field goal attempts. Despite playing limited minutes thus far, Wafer's greatest success this season has arguably materialized when he has put the ball on the floor and made his way to the hoop, as opposed to when he has taken shots from behind the arc.

(Read full post)

Worth the wait

January, 4, 2011

BOSTON -- In mid-December, with Rajon Rondo set to be sidelined for two weeks after spraining his ankle in a win over the New York Knicks, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers made a renewed plea for his bench players to fill the void as injuries mounted.

Elsa/Getty ImagesVon Wafer is starting to find his stride coming off the Celtics' bench, as Monday's 10-point, six-rebound effort will attest.
The next night against the Atlanta Hawks, reserve guard Von Wafer logged two rather forgettable second-quarter minutes, finishing minus-5 in plus/minus while doing little more than committing a shooting foul. He didn't get back on the court that evening.

Three nights later in Indiana wasn't much better. In 93 seconds of court time, Wafer finished minus-6, watching Mike Dunleavy splash a pair of 3-pointers to start the second quarter before getting another quick hook.

On Christmas Day in Orlando, Wafer drew a DNP-CD.

Many players would have lost their confidence. Wafer, who had kicked, clawed and scratched just to secure the 15th spot on Boston's roster out of training camp, never did.

"The day I lose my confidence in myself is the day I'll stop playing," Wafer said.

His tenacity has paid off. After aiding Boston's bench in providing a spark during a post-Christmas win in Indiana, Wafer's playing time has increased. The 51 minutes he's logged over the past four games accounts for more than 30 percent of his total playing time this season.

On Monday, he put together his finest effort in a Celtics uniform, connecting on 4-of-8 shots for 10 points -- his first double-digit output since April 13, 2009 with the Houston Rockets -- and added a team-high six rebounds over 15 minutes, 37 seconds of inspired play in Boston's 96-93 triumph over the Minnesota Timberwolves at TD Garden.

Wafer finished a team-best plus-15 (on a night Ray Allen was minus-15) and earned lofty praise from Rivers.

"Well, we give him a lot of [grief] about it because -- and we still give him [grief] -- I think on media day he said, 'You know, I'm an offensive player,'" Rivers said with a smile, knowing full well that being an offensive player doesn't mean a thing on his squads.

"That was his quote. But he's proven to us that he's more than that. I think a lot of players have that in them, they just don't know it sometimes. We're getting it out of him, and he's actually enjoying it. It's funny to watch him -- he gets excited about defensive stops now. And that's great, because I get excited about that as well."

Wafer appears to be carving out a role in that defense-first mentality, aided by an almost frenzied approach to defense as he often hounds the opposing ball-handler. At one point Monday, Wafer's inspired defense on an in-bound play led to a five-second violation early in the fourth quarter.

The 10 points he contributed Monday were nice, but forcing that type of turnover is what will keep him on the floor.

Click HERE to read the full story.

Opportunity knocks

December, 4, 2010
Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty ImagesVon Wafer says he's bought into the Boston system and wants to be part of something special.
BOSTON -- Von Wafer knows the key to his playing time is simple: Prove to the coaching staff he’s bought into the Boston system. He wonders what it will take to show coach Doc Rivers he’s done just that. Shaking pom-poms? Handing out cups of Gatorade? Whatever it is, he’s game.

As his coach made a public plea following Friday’s win over the Bulls for one more role player to step up, Wafer admitted it’s frustrating waiting for his opportunity, but stressed that buying into the Celtics’ system taught him to be patient during the process and he said he’ll be ready when his number is called.

Scott Cunningham/NBAE/GettyWafer shined last month against New Jersey and could get another opportunity to prove himself Sunday vs. the Nets.
“It is frustrating, but it’s not about me,” said Wafer. “It’s about our team. That frustration doesn’t even matter. I just want to be out there with my team. But if they need me to sit on the bench and be a cheerleader, or bring water to the guys, I’ll do that. I’ve just bought into what’s going on around here -- this team, these coaches. I’m just happy to be a part of it.”

Having worn seven jerseys over the span of six NBA seasons, Wafer has seen how things operate across the league. He’s played for both Los Angeles teams, Denver, Portland, and Houston. After chasing a big payday to play overseas in Greece last season, he quickly returned home to rekindle his NBA dream and signed a 10-day contract with the Mavericks late in the year (though he never appeared in a game for the team). Those travels made him appreciate what he’s found in Boston.

“It’s been different with other teams, this is the first team that I’ve been on where everyone is on the same page -- one goal, one agenda,” said Wafer. “I’ve been on teams where, you know how it is, guys are trying to get contracts or guys are doing what they want to do. You see that and you fall into it. Here they do it the right way.

“[I’ve learned how to be a] professional. I’ve learned about what it takes to be a champion, watching these guys. These guys are incredible -- Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce -- they’re at the gym every day, working hard. I’ve become a better professional because of them.”

Now he’s simply waiting for another opportunity to prove it.

(Read full post)

Catching Von

November, 26, 2010
Brian Babineau/NBAE/GettyVon Wafer is buying into Boston's system and it showed Wednesday.
BOSTON -- Glancing down at the stat sheet, Celtics coach Doc Rivers admitted it was unfair. There was the stat line for Von Wafer: 4 minutes, 54 seconds of floor time and a whole bunch of zeroes.

It didn't represent his impact on the game, particularly in the final frame. And if there had been a column for "buying in," it would have had a 1 next to it for the first time.

Rivers stresses to all newcomers that the key to their playing time is buying into Boston's philosophies and, chief among them, is a defense-first mentality. With limited action, including five DNPs through 15 games this season, Wafer hadn't shown yet that he was committed to being a defensive presence when he stepped on the court.

Then he absorbed a one-handed shove from Anthony Morrow, triggering an offensive foul and forcing a turnover just 39 seconds after Wafer stepped on the floor Wednesday night. It happened right in front of the Boston bench and Rivers' face immediately lit up in excitement.

"His stat line’s going to say basically nothing," Rivers said after the game. "But I thought his defensive energy was phenomenal, and it was great for Von in the locker room: Everybody was grabbing him and [congratulating him] because --finally -- defense and Von Wafer can now go together. And that’s a great thing, it really is. He’s bought in, and it’s a great lesson for him: Just hang in there. And he did.”

It hasn't been an easy start in Boston for Wafer. Brought in on a non-guaranteed contract, it seemed sometimes like everyone was waiting for him to fail during the preseason and he got pushed hard for the 15th spot on Boston's roster by camp invites Stephane Lasme and Mario West.

But when the smoke cleared, Wafer was the one with a locker stall and an NBA job. Then came an early season dust-up in which Wafer and Delonte West engaged in a locker room fist-fight, emotions spilling over from some competitive 2-on-2 games following recent practice sessions.

Now with West sidelined indefinitely with a broken right wrist, Wafer is thrust back into the spotlight as one of the guards that will attempt to fill West's shoes moving forward. And if Friday's game is any indication, Wafer is ready for the role.

His teammates raved about his contributions, with Kevin Garnett offering the highest praise.

"I thought Von Wafer came in and gave us [five] strong minutes," said Garnett. "He was electric in the game. He was energetic, and we made our run and never looked back."

Indeed, it was with Wafer on the floor that the Celtics rallied ahead in the fourth frame. Boston trailed by a bucket entering the final quarter and when Wafer passed the baton to captain Paul Pierce with 7:04 remaining, the Celtics boasted a five-point cushion it would cling to the rest of the way.

Wafer came with a reputation of being a below-average defender, but upon meeting Boston reporters for the first time in August, he laughed it off, deadpanning that "he had heard that" about himself, but thought maybe his reputation as an offensive player had simply forced everyone to focus on that aspect of his game.

With limited time, his stat line in Boston hasn't been very glitzy. He's averaging 1.3 points per game, while shooting a mere 36.4 percent from the floor. He's only made one 3-pointer (in four attempts). It's a far cry from the career-best 9.7 points per game he averaged as a key reserve for the Houston Rockets during the 2008-09 season (earning him a big contract overseas before he returned stateside soon after to rekindle his NBA dream).

But Wafer seems to understand now that it's his defense that's going to get him on the floor -- and keep him there. His offense will come with increased playing time and those 0's in the stat line with soon morph to crooked numbers.

So long as the 1 stays in the "buying in" column.

West: 'We laughed' about fight today

October, 31, 2010

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Suggesting that veterans Kevin Garnett and Shaquille O'Neal brought some levity in the fallout of Friday's locker room scuffle, Delonte West said Sunday that both he and Von Wafer have moved on from the dust-up and actually laughed about the situation Sunday.

"I'm competitive, he's competitive, as long as it's for the betterment of the team, there's nothing wrong with healthy competition and pushing each other to get better. Things went a little far, but at the same time, we were able to move past that," said West. "We're professionals."

Asked if he felt the two had patched things up, West added: "Oh yeah, no question. We laughed about it today."

West and Wafer got into a fistfight after a competitive game of 3-on-3 following a team meeting Friday morning. Celtics coach Doc Rivers confirmed the fight that day, but said only that the team would address it and move on. On Sunday, West and Wafer stood in the same huddle with the second unit and West suggested the dust-up wouldn't linger.

"We're competitive guys," he said. "I read the reports and a lot of things were taken out of context, or facts were made up that were not true with how things played out. Guys get into scuffles, or whatever you want to call them. At the end of the day, we're like brothers in here. We had a big laugh about it today with the help of [Shaquille O'Neal] and [Kevin Garnett]. At the end of the day, we're trying to win. We're competitive -- fiery guys in here -- but you gotta move on. We're focused on the next game, the next challenge."

For more on the fight click HERE. Ray Allen previously noted the team moved on quickly from the situation and even predicted it would turn into comedy HERE.



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Jeff Green
16.9 1.7 0.7 34.2
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsR. Rondo 9.8
StealsR. Rondo 1.3
BlocksK. Humphries 0.9