The last time anyone heard from Von Wafer, he was almost sparking riots during a play-off game in Shandong province. Back then, the American was playing for the Shanxi Dragons and was seen as the central instigator in a series of scuffles between his team and the Qingdao Eagles, including one incident that lead to a Qingdao player being punched in the nuts.
In the aftermath, the CBA came down hard on Wafer, banning him for six games and in the eyes of many, the length of the suspension effectively ended the swingman’s career in China. Given the CBA’s short season, on paper at least, no team could afford to be without a key player for so many games.
But instead, Wafer has found an unlikely way back to China via the front office of Jiangsu Tongxi. The expansion team, whose full name is the Jiangsu Tongxi Monkey Kings, made their CBA debut last season and were pretty terrible to say the least. Blindly relying on CBA journeyman Will McDonald and NBA D-Leaguer Brandon Costner, Tongxi limped their way to a far-from-respectable 10-28 record.
Given that Tongxi, based in the obscure city of Changzhou, are not going to be an attractive destination for Chinese free agents, the only way out of their situation is to overhaul the roster with better foreign players. This is where Wafer comes in– and with no-one else wanting to touch the talented American, Tongxi had an unlikely opportunity to sign a top-tier import to their team. Evidently being without Wafer for the first six games of the season was still not enough of a deterrent, and the Monkey Kings will be hoping that their new signing can still make a huge impact for the remaining thirty-two.
Make no mistake, it’s a gamble but one that’s worth taking for an experienced CBA player. Wafer, who also played for Xinjiang and Shanghai, has been a hugely productive scorer in the CBA and scored 32.5ppg last season. Ordinarily, Wafer would not have come to Tongxi but this time around, he has no choice given the lack of interest shown to him.
When he does return, expect Wafer to be given all the shots he wants. Tongxi are not going to be able to recruit too many other recruits of his calibre so the American is going to have the greenest light in Chinese basketball. Wafer, who excelled as a point-forward whilst at Shanxi, will also presumably have the ball in his hands for the majority of the game, and should have at least one fifty point game in the forthcoming season.
It’s certainly not ideal but Wafer has gotten himself out of jail after his moment(s) of madness in Qingdao. Though it is unlikely his new team will even sniff the postseason, the player, who will turn 31 at the end of the season, has set himself up for at least one more big payday in China. Another big year for the unfashionable side from Jiangsu province might even bring him back in 2016/17, but right now, Wafer needs to make the most of his stay in the last chance saloon of Chinese basketball.