Friday, December 11, 2009

Grizzlies Target Von Wafer

Posted By on Fri, Dec 11, 2009 at 2:00 PM

Von Wafer
  • Von Wafer
As first reported by HoopsHype.com this morning, the Grizzlies are moving to sign Von Wafer, the former Houston Rockets guard who signed with the Greek team Olympiakos this summer but is now seeking to get out of that contract and return to the NBA.

Barring the unexpected, it appears likely Wafer will join the Grizzlies sometime in the next couple of weeks.

Initial thoughts:

1. The move is a great sign because the Grizzlies are at the league's roster minimum and don't need to add anyone. Using some of the cap-room regained from parting ways with Allen Iverson and an open roster spot on a good player despite still basement-level attendance, suggests the Grizzlies are serious about trying to build on their recent momentum.

2. Wafer in particular is a good signing. After bouncing around his first few seasons, Wafer established himself last season as a productive bench scorer for the Rockets, shooting 45% from the floor and 39% from three and averaging nearly double digits in scoring despite averaging fewer than 20 minutes per game.

I mentioned Wafer on several occasions this summer as a cost-effective free agent I thought the Grizzlies should look at, but the team went the Iverson route instead. Here's what ESPN.com's John Hollinger wrote about Wafer in July in an "under-the-radar free agents" column:

Another 23-year-old who still has plenty of upside to explore, Wafer is a knockdown shooter who can also put it on the floor and use his athleticism to score at the trim.

While his defense is a work in progress and his passing only a rumor, he averaged 19.9 points per 40 minutes for Houston last season while shooting 39.0 percent on 3s. He's also an unrestricted free agent and the Rockets are facing luxury tax issues, meaning he might be had for the right price. As a source of bench scoring, you could do plenty worse, especially since he has enough upside to eventually start.

3. There is some question as to how Wafer will fit in with Sam Young developing well and soaking up the minutes behind O.J. Mayo. Wafer is a better outside shooter, but Young is a better defender and craftier around the basket. Ultimately, however, this team needs shooting, bench scoring, and talent period. Wafer provides all of that. With the team leaning so heavily on its starters and with the ever-present potential for injuries, you suspect that minutes will be there for Young, Wafer, and DeMarre Carroll over the course of the season.

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