It's the Hard Pinnock Life (For Von Too)
And then there were 16. The roster dwindled down today with an announcement that J.R. Pinnock and Von Wafer have been waived. A little ironic, considering they represented two of the scarce healthy bodies available — I think the Lakers now sport a three-man rotation — but you didn't have to be Nostradamus to see this turn of events coming.
Pinnock definitely has the athletic ability, but just didn't seem ready to play at this level. Whenever he got into games, you could see flashes, but it mostly felt like he pressing while desperately trying to make an impression. That's never the ideal approach. I imagine his decision to leave early was prompted in part by the desire to provide for his two kids, but all things being equal, he'd have been a lot better off spending another year at GWU. Pinnock told me after a Summer League game that he was prepared for the possibility of playing overseas, so unless he lands on another NBA (or NBDL) roster, he'll likely be updating a passport. I wish Pinnock the best, because he seems like a nice guy and a hard worker.
As for K Brothers fave Von Wafer, it's certainly something of a sad day. Ain't often you find a player that makes Kobe look absolutely terrified to shoot by comparison, that doesn't let a little thing like only hitting 16% of said shots discourage him. A guy that lived — I mean, lived — to huck it. From anywhere. Three point line. Half court line. The Pantry, two blocks north of Staples on Figueroa. Throw in the oft inexplicably bad decisions — it's hard to say for sure in SPL play because there are no replays, but I could swear he once turned the ball over trying to call time out — and you got a fourth stringer for the ages.
But as BK rightfully pointed out to me a couple days ago, now that Von was trying to play "the right way" — under (relative) control, taking (relatively) sensible shots, passing the rock every now and then- he became much less entertaining without the added effect of actually getting better. Maybe BK and I are selfish bastards, but when we latch onto a player as a source of unintentional comedy, backing the guy 100%, we expect him to stay true to himself. Take Slava, a Hall of Fame comedic genius. Dude came into the league taking shots like an alcoholic at an open bar, unable to guard Marge Hearn, and often looking completely unaware of the play being run, but content to assume it was being set up for him to immediately shoot. And he left the league exactly the same player, except wealthier, with a worse back and an apparent penchant for Snickers Bars. But he stayed true to himself. Thus, BK and I still miss Slava. Will we miss Von? Perhaps, but only because we'll insist on remembering him in his prime. And with that, I'll share my favorite Wafer tale.
Last season, the Laker got blown out 105-79 by the Pacers on the road. And with about 7 seconds left, both team's scrubs were in. Pacers PG Eddie Gill, simply trying to avoid a shot clock violation, went in for a meaningless lay up. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Von comes streaking in, fouling the crap out of Gill while yelling, "Get that %@^& out of here!" so loudly, I heard it while watching on the KCAL telecast. Gill takes his free throws. Lakers inbound and Wafer gets the ball. Most players will simply run the clock down when trailing by 26. Not Von. Our boy sprints up court, parks himself behind the arc, fires a trey...and misses.
I can't even tell you people how angry I was that I accidentally erased the game recording while trying to store it in my TiVo's "Keep until I delete" section.
Good luck to both guys.