I've spoken with a few people who feel the Von Wafer signing came out of left field on Thursday night. However, as I told them, it shouldn't come as a complete surprise, since there were indeed rumors floating around a few weeks back that claimed the Celtics were interested in the 6'5, 210-pound shooting guard. But with news also surfacing more recently that the Celtics were inquiring about the services of Eddie House, Delonte West, and Rudy Fernandez, it simply seemed as though Wafer was no longer under strong consideration for a contract.
Alas, here we are. Wafer will be a member of the Celtics next season, and the signing sheds some light on a few questions as the offseason moves forward, and also tells us a few things about how other players might be utilized.
Wafer's regarded for his three-point shooting (39 percent in 2008-2009), but, as Chris Forsberg points out, he might not be as one-dimensional as initial reports indicated:
During his 2008-09 season with the Houston Rockets, Wafer averaged nearly as many shots per game at the rim (2.4 per game) as he attempted 3-pointers (2.6). What's more, he converted 60 percent of those shots around the basket, showing he can finish when he beats a defender off the dribble and gets to the rim.
Before we go any further, it should be noted that the addition of Wafer brings Boston's roster to 13 players signed, including Rasheed Wallace (who still hasn't technically retired yet). Those 13 players are Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins, Jermaine O'Neal, Nate Robinson, Glen Davis, Marquis Daniels, Avery Bradley, Semih Erden, Wafer, and Wallace.
Reports have also surfaced that the C's are expected to sign second-round draft choice Luke Harangody, which would put the team at 14 players - one below the league limit. Tony Gaffney and Oliver Lafayette are also in the mix, but are working under non-guaranteed contracts for next season.
So, where will the Celtics go from here? Assuming Harangody signs, making him the 14th player with a guaranteed contract, that leaves the Celtics one open roster spot, with reports still claiming the C's are looking to add an extra big man. For more on that front, Marc Stein reported yesterday that Shaquille O'Neal and Kwame Brown were still on Boston's radar.
The Celtics were reportedly in serious discussions with Portland regarding disgruntled guard Rudy Fernandez, but with Wafer now on board and only one roster spot seemingly remaining, how likely is it that the Celtics will acquire the high-flying guard? The latest reports claim that Portland has suspended talks surrounding Fernandez until at least tomorrow, but if the Blazers are indeed willing to accept a future first-round pick for Fernandez, that would max out Boston's roster and eliminate the possibility of adding that final big man.
Trading player-for-player could prove difficult in this situation, as Boston's main offering would most likely be Rasheed Wallace's contract, but, as has been mentioned before, Fernandez is set to make just $1.25 million next season, so such a deal wouldn't go through. Portland doesn't have any other players set to make an amount of money next season that would come close enough to facilitate a trade with Wallace, and it's unlikely the Blazers are looking to package multiple players simply for the sake of getting rid of the minutes-hungry Fernandez.
With the addition of Wafer, there would also be the obvious question of where everyone would fit in. If Portland were to accept a draft pick, and the C's maxed out the roster, they would have Allen, Pierce, Daniels, Wafer, and Fernandez filling out the wing positions, and while the depth might be ideal, one player is bound to lose out on minutes, and both Fernandez (currently) and Wafer (previously) have had squabbles with their organizations regarding playing time.
It wouldn't shock me if Fernandez was Boston's "Plan A" for a final reserve perimeter scorer/shooter, while Wafer was simply "Plan B". The Celtics might have had Wafer on hold on line two while they worked furiously to try and facilitate a trade with Portland on line one. Who knows exactly why Portland decided to back out and mull over it's options, but if it appeared to Danny Ainge that a favorable deal wasn't going to be struck, he might have decided to close up shop on Fernandez and elect to sign Wafer. All of this is nothing more than speculation on my part, of course.
Marquis Daniels Getting Defensive?
Wafer's known much more for his offense than his defense at this point. That isn't too say he's incapable of playing solid one-on-one or team defense. It simply means the body of work isn't great enough for any of us to come to a rational conclusion. We'll have to wait and see. In the mean time, if Wafer was indeed the final perimeter player the Celtics intended to add this offseason, that pretty much leaves Marquis Daniels to fill Tony Allen's role from last season as the go-to-guy behind Pierce for defending the opposing team's best perimeter player (unless Wafer turns out to have hidden defensive capabilities). This also might have been the case had the C's been able to acquire Fernandez, since, like Wafer, he isn't known for his lockdown defense as much as he is for his three-point shot.
Where Does Avery Bradley Fit?
Rookie Avery Bradley's currently rehabbing his surgically repaired left ankle in Waltham, and is still aiming to contribute next season. Whether that's just hopeful (and respectable) ambition out of the rookie remains to be seen. Doc Rivers said on draft night that Bradley might serve as a backup to Rajon Rondo, but with Nate Robinson back in the fold, that role might not be as readily available. Add in Daniels being re-signed and the recent addition of Wafer and there will only be so many minutes to go around. The Celtics claim they love the defense Bradley is capable of playing, but we'll have to see if that alone is enough for Bradley to find time. If not, he might be sent down for a few stints in the D-League.
With two of the Celtics' core perimeter players - Allen and Pierce - not getting any younger, we actually could see an all-reserve second team, as opposed to the now custom one starter and four bench players model. Fans probably won't argue with Doc electing to rest Allen and Pierce more over the course of the regular season, and bringing back Robinson, along with signing Wafer, gives the second unit two credible offensive threats. We could very well see a second unit made up of Robinson, Wafer, Daniels, Glen Davis, and another big man (Erden perhaps?). There should be enough between the five guys, both offensively and defensively, to ensure some much needed rest for the starters.