Former Rockets guard Wafer is close to leaving Olympiakos and returning to the NBA with the Memphis Grizzlies, one source told HoopsHype.com. Wafer's European agents are working today to rescind his contract with the Greek powerhouse. The 6-foot-5 guard could soon afterwards join the Grizzlies for the rest of the season, the source said.
Wafer's departure is apparently of mutual agreement. Wafer was due to make $2 million with Olympiakos this year but the team's coach, Greek legend Panagiotis Giannakis, wasn't playing him for the last few games. Management didn't want to have that type of investment sitting on the bench, according to the source, so both sides decided to come to a quick resolution.
Wafer has played in 50 D-League games over three seasons, eight on assignment by the Lakers to the Fort Worth Flyers and the remaining with the Colorado 14ers. With the 14ers, Wafer averaged 21 points, earning call-ups to both the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets. Since his D-League years, Wafer's went on to play in 92 NBA games with the Nuggets, Blazers and Rockets.
Wait, Scott, why does this move matter to a D-League blog? Wafer hasn't played in the D-League since 2007!
If the overseas contracts are becoming easy enough to get out of, it seems to make sense that if a player has established himself on the NBA radar (as Wafer obviously has), it's not a bad idea to grab one of those big European contracts and hope the NBA comes calling, rather than grinding it out around the D-League.
In Greece, Wafer scored 10 points just once in his six games, obviously showing that scouts care more about what they know a player can do rather than what he's currently doing (or the Grizzlies were really high on a player that was benched his last few games, which would be, well, odd). I'd venure to say that both Desmon Farmer and Carlos Powell could have been just as well off going this route. Both shown what they can do in the D-League (and have had short sniffs of the big leagues, proving their worth), and while they don't have the name value of Wafer, I'm fairly certain NBA scouts didn't need to see them average 20+ points in the D-League to know what each is capable of doing.
According to the comments on HoopsHype's story, Wafer's already made $3 million, with $2 million more remaining. Had he come to the D-League, he wouldn't make anything close to that amount and would still have been the first call-up candidate at his position, regardless of his numbers.
If this becomes some sort of trend (and granted, it probably won't), the D-League will end up relying on the young guns like Alonzo Gee, Sundiata Gaines and Curtis Jerrell instead of proven baller's like Farmer, Powell, Mike Harris and Rod Benson.