In a teleconference discussing the recent signing of new forward Chris Webber, Warriors GM Chris Mullin got a taste of what to expect now that Golden State has reunited with its former Rookie of the Year.
That dirty Chris Webber, the player whose departure set the franchise back for 1,000 years, is back in town. How's it going to work this time?
|Chris Webber isn't as spry as he was in 1994, but his passing skills haven't diminished. (Getty Images)|
But, but ... he cheated on Golden State, wanted out. He and Don Nelson cited irreconcilable differences in dissolving a marriage that wound up with the Warriors having to take Tom Gugliotta and three first-round picks just to get rid of C-Webb.
They burned his jerseys, washed him out of their hair. And now he's back?
The Warriors have a bunch of better-looking alternatives they can turn to on a lonely night, but are still intrigued enough to buy C-Webb's perfume -- ok, size -- to make the splash.
The risk is minimal; the equivalent of losing his phone number if there's a moment that's too awkward. To make room on the roster Golden State cut Troy Hudson, done for the season after hip surgery, so it's not like the Warriors are losing anything from a personnel standpoint. The salary they're paying Webber is the veteran's minimum, prorated from this point forward.
Depending on what shape he's in, he'll be given every opportunity to become a regular. It's expected that he'll be brought along slowly, but Mullin anticipates that Webber is going to be able to contribute with his passing out of the post and on-court IQ. If he works out, he'll fit right in next to Andris Biedrins and Al Harrington among the team's primary post options, ahead of kids Patrick O'Bryant and Brandan Wright.
Golden State didn't go rushing into this. Although there was certainly some pressure to get Webber signed before the Pistons found a way to free up a spot for him, this has been weeks in the making. According to Mullin, discussions about bringing in Webber started way back in the preseason, with contact officially being made during the first week of January.
Like any potentially combustible situation, things have been thought through on both sides. Mullin said multiple times that once he became a focal point, the "first feeling was to lay it out there, step away, reconvene and then move forward." Both parties had time to let things simmer and decide whether they really wanted to reunite.
"The focus is really on what he can bring to the team. Us to have something for him and him to have something for us," Mullin said. Initially, my approach was to talk about it, sit on it, still feel good about it later on."
Webber undoubtedly spent that time considering other options, especially since he said originally that Detroit was where he wanted to be. Ultimately, when the Warriors decided they were ready, he bit. For Golden State, this can only be viewed as a good sign. He didn't string the team along. He's eager to play.
Nellie is good with the addition. So long as Webber can help, what's gone down in the past stays there. In an interview with Warriors.com, Webber sounded optimistic there won't be a rift.
"To me, personally, we're both older, more mature. It won't be a problem," Webber said. "He's a guy who has been very innovative in terms of how he coaches. We were the league leaders in scoring my rookie year and they're doing the same things now. Nellie is a good coach."
Go ahead and raise eyebrows. Be skeptical. Do what you would do to any friend bringing a nasty breakup back in the picture after a 14-year absence. Mullin won't even stop you, though he did add, "I would hope everyone will be open-minded, let this thing unfold."
That would break with the "no promises" theme though, wouldn't it?
All that can really be said about Webber's return to the Bay Area is that he has been warned that he won't be the preferred option. Every possible scenario has been laid out for him. If he's feeling unloved during a Saturday night on the bench, he has to remember he signed up for it.