As we enter buyout season, the Mavs will keep an eye to the ever-growing free agent pool. They’ll hope for Drew Gooden, bat their eyelashes at Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and entertain the idea of adding another point guard. But Z is Cleveland-bound if he’s cut loose, Gooden likely won’t find his way out of L.A., and one can’t help but wonder how effective another point guard could really be if added this late in the season.
But according to Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News, the Mavs may be headed in a more traditional direction. The common platitude for playoff-bound teams is the eternal search for another shooter. Every playoff team needs a guy that can stretch the floor. You can never have enough shooting. That team really needs a player who can come in off the bench and hit a big shot. Wash, rinse, and repeat, ad nauseam.
Don’t get me wrong, shooting is nice. But most of the time what playoff caliber teams are really missing is another defender. They could use five good minutes off the bench with no purpose other than to limit an opposing scorer. Sometimes it comes in the form of a savvy, journeyman wing, and others, a young athletic center that can defend the rim with his shot-blocking.
The problem, of course, is that those players typically aren’t floating around in free agency; good defenders are usually deeply embedded in the playoff rotation of another playoff team, making them rather difficult to pry away. Plus, whereas good defense is much more difficult to quantify on paper and in workouts, good shooting is far easier to spot. For a coaching staff and management team with no time to lose at this point in the season, identifying a usable commodity quickly and easily is invaluable.
So rather than workout a defensive standout, the Mavs have opted to bring in Von Wafer and Rashad McCants, two shooting guards linked to Dallas in the off-season, for workouts. Here’s what I wrote about the two when I was evaluating potential free agent acquisitions for the Mavs over the summer:
Von Wafer, SG (unrestricted) – Von Wafer is a ruthless scorer. He’d cut the throat of a kitten for a bucket, but that same drive makes him a bit of a black hole. For what it’s worth, he also had trouble getting along with Rockets’ coach Rick Adelman, perhaps the most players’ coachy of players’ coaches.
Wafer may never tighten the screws that keep his head on his shoulders, and that’s likely the red flag that has kept the Mavs away. If Wafer can’t learn to play nice with his coach and his teammates, he’ll never be able to thrive in the shot-in-the-arm role that best suits his game. I don’t think Wafer has the talent or potential to pan out as a top-level scorer, but he would rock it as a punch off the bench. The Mavs already have that covered with a cat named Jason Terry. You may have heard of him. But if Von has trouble finding a home and re-enters the market for bargain value, the Mavs would be stupid to pass up the depth…unless Wafer’s even more troublesome to a locker room than I give him credit for.
…Rashad McCants, SG (unrestricted) – He’s young, he’s available, and he’s a scorer. Unfortunately, he’s not much else. McCants is a mouth with a jumpshot, but enough of both that he could inject some swagger and balance the court with his range. As long as the deal is within reason, McCants could be the extra gun arm needed to shoot the lights out. He also just so happened to work out with the team a few weeks back, so he’s got that on his side.
Not much has changed. Out of the two, I much prefer Wafer; he’s an excellent shooter but can score in a variety of ways. Neither is much to speak of in the way of perimeter defense, and months away from the NBA game isn’t going to help. But if the Mavs are determined to sign a back-court scorer, I’d strongly urge for Wafer over McCants, at least in terms of their on-court contributions. Wafer caused enough of a problem for Houston that he was let go for nothing, and the fact that he couldn’t drum up interest with any other team in the league is a bit worrisome. But if the Mavs are looking for another scorer in the Jamal Crawford/Flip Murray mold (albeit without Crawford’s playmaking abilities…or maybe just without the willingness to make plays), Wafer seems to be the superior option. One can only hope that his experience playing overseas has been a humbling one, and that Wafer is ready to grow up a bit on the court and off it. That, or maybe just come in and score like mad.