Webber's relationship with Nelson might be repaired.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Oakland -- The once absurd prospect of Chris Webber reuniting with the Warriors and Don Nelson is moving toward reality.
With one team official putting the odds at "50-50" and another source saying that an announcement could be made by the end of the week, Webber's possible arrival as a free agent is being met with approval by players.
"That'd be awesome," Baron Davis said Saturday. "We just want to become a better team. If management feels like they can bring in somebody who can help us do that, we're all for it."
According to league sources, the idea of Webber returning was hatched more than a month ago with the Warriors looking for frontline help.
Since then, Nelson and Webber have spoken over the phone to mend wounds from their 1993-94 clashes, which led to Webber's trade after his Rookie of the Year season and Nelson's firing midway through the 1994-95 season.
Webber is expected to make his decision in the next few days. The Warriors follow tonight's game with a midweek trip to Houston and New Orleans.
Nelson continues to dance around the subject of his former headache, but forward Matt Barnes admits recruiting Webber to the Warriors.
"Of course I did," said Barnes, who played with Webber in Sacramento and Philadelphia. "Chris and I have been friends for a while. It would be good to see Chris here. I talked to him a couple of weeks ago. He's working out, just getting ready mentally, physically."
Those indeed remain the biggest questions surrounding Webber, who has not played in an NBA game since the Pistons lost to the Cavaliers in last season's Eastern Conference finals.
Physically, Webber has endured 14 seasons of NBA wear and tear, as well as a microfracture procedure in 2003. He turns 35 in March and would have to keep up with the Warriors' up-tempo style.
Mentally, Webber would have to accept being a role player in Nelson's rotation, with the likelihood of spending ample time at center - the position he bristled at playing during his first go-around under Nelson.
As far as Barnes is concerned, neither will be a problem.
"That's up to the coaching staff, who gets the minutes," Barnes said. "Anyone who comes in here, we're going to make sure they have a good time and they're going to play hard. ...
"He can keep up the pace. I see Chris in the summertime, the way he was playing in Detroit. He'll be fine here if he decides to come here. Someone with his experience and his knowledge of the game, the way he passes the ball, all the stuff he does, it'll definitely help our team out."
Webber isn't likely to receive more than the pro-rated veteran's minimum of $1.2 million from any of his suitors, which are believed to also include the Lakers and Pistons. The Lakers recently signed ex-Warriors center DJ Mbenga to a 10-day contract after the injury to Andrew Bynum.
The Warriors are similarly looking to upgrade their frontcourt without moving Al Harrington, according to a league source, and have found the market cool for forward Mickael Pietrus.
That leaves small roster tweaks as the likeliest path to improvement before February's trade deadline, and the Warriors firmly believe the addition of an experienced player - be it Webber, Gary Payton or someone else - would not disrupt their team chemistry.
"It's not stepping on anyone's toes because there isn't one leader," Davis said. "Everyone leads in their own separate way, and in this team, we all feed off each other. So having another veteran in here is no problem."
Nelson added: "Our leadership is so strong here I wouldn't worry about that. I'd say if anything, we'd be stronger. More veteran leadership is a good thing. I've got enough rookies."
Briefly: Barring any drastic changes, point guard C.J. Watson is on track to be signed for the rest of the season when his second 10-day contract expires Monday. ... Pietrus received his first "Did Not Play - Coach's Decision" against New Jersey on Thursday after his on-and-off bout with the stomach flu. "He didn't look real sharp at practice, and I decided just to probably not take a chance on him," Nelson said.
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