Rick Adelman Past Forgettable Conflict With Von Wafer, Praises Celtics Guard as ‘Real Threat’


January 10, 2011

When you think back to Von Wafer's time with the Houston Rockets, the main thing you remember is probably the ugly incident in the 2009 playoffs when coach Rick Adelman kicked Wafer off the bench during a dispute over minutes.

It was that incident that triggered Wafer's leaving the NBA and leaving the country, as he went on to sign with the Greek Euroleague club Olympiacos Piraeus that summer.

But now that Wafer's back stateside, time has healed all wounds. Adelman now remembers Wafer fondly as a bench scorer with the 2008-09 Rockets.

"He had a lot of ups for us," the coach said Monday before the Rockets took on the Celtics at the TD Garden. "Everybody remembers one incident, but that wasn't that big of a deal. He played really well for us. He was a real spark off the bench. He won a lot of games for us.

"He's a guy that, once he gets comfortable, is a real threat. I think he's going to help [the Celtics] eventually. Obviously they have a lot of veterans, and he hasn't seen the time. We needed him to play when we had him."

If Wafer did have one weakness as a Rocket, though, Adelman was quick to pinpoint it.

"Not a great defender," the coach said. "He was more of an offensive player. But he's with a team now that's very good defensively, so that should rub off on him. He could be a factor. He's got the quickness and athletic ability, but the concentration wasn't always there."

Wafer's new coach confirmed that yes, Wafer has taken steps toward shoring up his defensive weaknesses and becoming a better all-around player.

"He's improved," Doc Rivers said of Wafer. "He wasn't [a defender in Houston]. He wasn't when he first got here, either, but he's working on it. It's a focus. Von has probably viewed himself throughout his career so far as an offensive player. And I give him a lot of credit — he's really trying to do what he needs to play, and that's defend. He's getting there."

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