In one corner of the Celtics' locker room after Wednesday's preseason finale stood Mario West, quietly eating his postgame meal by himself. In another was Stephane Lasme, packing up his things and saying goodbye to the friends he'd made this preseason.
Both were sadly walking away from the Celtics, last on the chopping block as the team cut its roster down to 15 players for the regular season. They'd lost the war.
But the guy who won it didn't sound too satisfied, either.
"Just making the team's not enough for me," Von Wafer said Wednesday night. "I want to play. I've been playing in the NBA five years, and I've been sitting on the bench for four. And you just can't get better by sitting on the bench. I want to play. That's the bottom line."
Wafer had an up-and-down preseason for the Celtics, with his playing time being jerked all over the place by C's head coach Doc Rivers. He played 39 minutes one night in Philadelphia last week, then just two the following night. He was up and down, in and out of the Boston rotation, but now he's finally got job security in Boston. He's in.
Now he wants more.
"I just want to get on the court," Wafer said. "Just play, just contribute. I feel like I can. I feel like I can play at a high level. But it doesn't really matter what I feel like. It's just up to Doc and up to all the other coaches. I just hope and pray that I did enough to show them that I'm good enough to be out there."
Wafer's been out of the NBA since the spring of 2009, when the Houston Rockets cut him loose after their brief Western Conference playoff run. He spent part of last season abroad, playing for the Greek club Olympiacos Piraeus of the Euroleague, before returning home in December and laying low for the rest of the season.
He's talked a lot this fall about how it's taken him time to get back into game shape. But as the preseason has worn on, he's been getting there.
"The game was slowing down for me," he said. "The game was so fast those first couple games, man. They were moving 100 miles per hour. I was tired. The game, more and more I play, it just slows down."
Wafer eventually started putting up numbers this fall. He started and dropped 11 points on the Sixers back on Oct. 12; then he came off the bench and scored 14 against the Raptors three nights later. He finished the preseason averaging 5.1 points and 1.4 rebounds over 16.7 minutes, and shooting 45.0 percent. He's made six of his eight 3-pointers.
But will he play? That's the real question. And it's a tough one.
"I don't know," Wafer said candidly. "It looks really sketchy for me, because we've got so much talent, man. We've got a lot of talent. I don't know, it looks kind of sketchy, but you never know. I'm just going to go into it thinking positive. The way it looks, the way the rotation's looking, it doesn't look good. But you never know. I'm going to stay ready."
Wafer is buried on the depth chart behind starting shooting guard Ray Allen, and also behind Delonte West, who's earned the right to be the primary backup. But with West suspended for the first 10 games of the regular season, that leaves a glimmer of hope for Wafer. For the first two weeks of the regular season, Wafer has a chance to prove himself.
"I hope so," he said. "I hope so. But like I said, I just want to play. I just want to contribute to the team. I just want to play, man. I don't know what else to say. I don't want to sit on the bench anymore. I just want to play basketball."