Carry On, Wayward Sons

Linas Kleiza and Von Wafer are now teammates, thought hardly in the sense that NBA fans would prefer.  They’ll be a comedic duo coming to a theater near you in the latest installment of the road tripping genre.  One lovable Lithuanian and his partner in crime, friendship, and basketball will venture off to see the world, find their fortune, and win the girl(s).

Cameo by Josh Childress, and Allen Iverson (rumored, unconfirmed).

It’s a pity, really, but this is a pretty substantial option for restricted free agents looking to make some extra coin or stick it to their respective teams.  Childress was undoubtedly the trailblazer, and perhaps it’s fitting that Kleiza, an underrated contributor, and Von Wafer, an emerging scorer in his own right, have followed the path of the consummate role player.  There are essentially two types of role players: company men (Derek Fisher, etc.), and vagabonds.  Kleiza, Childress, Wafer and the like have simply upped the ante in regard to the journeyman tag, proving that the gun-for-hire ethic of professional sports musn’t be limited by oceans or passports.  Teams in the NBA are in a tight spot right now, hence Kleiza bolting from a team that frankly needs him in the rotation and has no significant talent waiting in the wings.  The luxury tax cares not for your team’s depth chart, and apparently not at all for the preferences of HP.  But we’re hardly unique in appreciating Kleiza’s style and game, because the dude is straight up fan favorite.  How could you not appreciate Kleiza launching threes and barreling into the lane?  How could you not go nuts when he dropped 41 on national television?  Kleiza’s tough, he’s big, and he’s fun, three attributes which no other Nugget embodies.

Wafer brings his own tragedy, if only because his European vacation is a product of his immaturity.  Von has all the makings of a cult icon: scoring machine, limited playing time, prodigious name.  But instead of bringing his particular brand of exciting basketball (exciting for us, not his teammates) to a new team and a new fan base here in the States, he’ll be out of sight and out of mind in Greece.  It’s a pity, but does hold a bright side for Wafer: an opportunity, as Kelly Dwyer puts it, to chill the hell out.  Wafer is living proof that playing as if you have nothing to lose can make you lose quite a bit in terms of professional opportunity, if only for a season or two.

Godspeed, sons of HP.  Kleiza, may your sword be your guide, as you climb to new heights as a scoring threat.  Von, may you continue your evolution along the J.R. Smith line, until the fateful day where you join forces with him to make the universe explode.

Seth Carstens