It’s done: Chris Webber returns

After a 14-year hiatus, Chris Webber is going to be a Warrior again.

A team source said that Webber, who arrived in Oakland as the No. 1 overall pick from the 1993 NBA draft but left the following year after a vicious falling-out with coach Don Nelson, is expected to sign a one-year contract with Golden State either tonight or Tuesday. Another source confirmed the team has put in for waivers on injured guard Troy Hudson, clearing the way for Webber, a five-time All-Star, to join the club.

An official announcement is not expected until Tuesday, and Webber most likely won’t join the team until Thursday, when it returns from a two-day road trip to Houston and New Orleans.

Webber, who has not played this season, also had interest from the Lakers, but went with Golden State after Los Angeles reportedly asked him to work on a tryout basis under two 10-day contracts before getting a season-long deal.

Webber’s deal is expected to be worth approximately $550,000, although the Warriors will be reimbursed roughly $200,000 from the league under salary cap rules meant to encourage the signing of veteran free agents.

A Warriors spokesman, citing team policy, declined to comment on the impending deal, which will reunite Webber and Nelson for the first time since 1993-94. The pair helped Golden State win 50 games that season and earned a playoff berth, but cracks in the relationship started to become public in January and February, and after the season, Webber exercised an opt-out clause in his 15-year, $74 million contract.

Webber held out until November 1994, when Golden State worked out a sign-and-trade deal with the Washington Bullets, shipping out Webber in exchange for Tom Gugliotta and three first-round selections. Nelson stepped down as the club’s general manager and coach in February 1995. The franchise didn’t garner another playoff berth — or even a winning record, for that matter — until Nelson returned last season.

The Warriors’ interest in Webber came to light last week, although it may have been going on for significantly longer than that. Sources said that Nelson and Webber have talked through any residual enmity, and Nelson said he has no fears of a repeat performance.

“I look back on it . . . and we were both pretty stubborn,” Nelson said. “I was maybe too tough and he was too young to see the positives that I was trying to bring to the table. But anyway, I think I’ve learned and I think he has too. Hey, I’m an old man and he’s an old player. There’s a lot of common sense to it.”

And a lot of media craziness, too. Let the circus commence.

— Geoff

Geoff Lepper

Geoff Lepper has covered the Warriors since 2005 for the Oakland Tribune and Contra Costa Times. Before that, he covered baseball and college sports for the Marin Independent Journal.

  • BayArea Bob

    What number will he where? C.J. better give up #4!

  • BayArea Bob

    I meant.. What number will he wear? C.J. better give up #4!

  • Double Edge

    Talk about a soap opera. This is like being forced to go on vacation for 2 or 3 months with your ex, after 14 years. Only the truly desperate would try this (on both sides)!

  • leftyodoul

    Great move for Mullin & the W’s. I know there’s a lot of old-school enmity to C-Webb around here, but if he wants to come back and play for Nellie and the Warriors, than some things have changed. He’s an All-Star, a probable Hall of Famer, has mad basketball smarts, and obviously wants to play here. He knows what he’s getting into, and he’s not an idiot. CW knows what style of basketball they play here, knows we need a big man to rebound and play defense, knows that the Warriors’ chemistry is great, that they already have their team leaders and that this team is special. Those are the reasons why he’s coming back to the Warriors, and I think it’s a great move to shore up a playoff run. Especially in the playoffs, when we’ll have to bang and play a slower game, he’ll be valuable.

  • commish

    This is vintage Nelson, spinning the public and media. We all know the Warriors are a big, defensive minded player away from going deeper into the playoff and conceivably heading into next season. Marucs listed a couple who might have been available: Tyson and Villaneuva if we would have been creative.

    I’m not saying Webber won’t help a little, but the spin is making me dizzy. I feel like we have taken our eye off the ball and allowed Nelson to stop any critical thinking about what Webber can realistically bring to the team.

    It is not a terrible decision–and we have had our fill of terrible decisions–but get real. It is all hype and typical of Nelson to do something like this.

  • Marcus

    The irony? The Lakers shun Webber and the Warriors take him. Now watch the Lakers end up getting Jason Kidd.

  • Andrew

    Hey Commish,

    There is still a possibility of getting CV. We have POB and MP to dangle to the bucks. I dont think we are done tinkering yet.

  • commish

    Hey Andrew, I hope you are right. It still blows my mind we didn’t drop MP over the summer (and his mind as well) for whomever we could get. You can see Nellie is hardly playing him now. Same of POB except MP was a starter last year.

  • JustPuked

    leftyodoul- “He’s an All-Star…”
    Err, I know we’re going down memory lane but let’s not get lost there. CWebb an All-Star no more.

    Marcus- No irony. Playoff teams like the Pistons and Lakers don’t take risks on highly cancerous players like Webber. The true opinion Nellie has of his teams playoffs hopes is manifest in his willingness to champion Chris Webber.

  • JC

    Hey pessimists, this is not a bad move. We need a big man, you all know this. How many games have we squandered this year because we couldn’t grab a rebound in crucial parts of the game?

    CWebb last year played nearly 30 min a game, and averaged 12/7/3. If he can produce these numbers for us, he would be highly valuable, especially in the 7 rbs/game. That would make him the 2nd best rebounder on the team. Harrington, even though I love his game, is not a banger and cannot grab boards. We need a guy like CWebb. Not to mention that CWebb would be able to pass to streaking guards from the high post.

    Hey Marcus, let the Lakers get Kidd. What has Kidd been able to accomplish anyway? Yeah, he’s probably one of the best all around players in the game, but his teams have yet to produce. That’s a fact!

  • JustPuked

    Okay, I take it all back. Well a little. I recently read the team captains have been pestering Nelson to sign Webber for a while now. So that answers my concern about chemistry. They’ve made their bed and what happens in the bedroom….er locker room…. ewwww that’s just a bad analogy all around…and yet fitting. It’s a sticky situation for the fans but it could be hallelujah time for the players. I’m good if they’re good, ya’know. Let’s see if C-Webb still has enough juice on the court to make us all believe one more time.

    BTW did ya’ll catch the pseudo Chris/Nellie convo on Yahoo? Priceless.

  • EJ

    webber is going to help. he’s not going to be amare, dwight howard, or duncan, but really, it’s either him or the notorious P.O.B.

  • Vince

    I think there’s one more move coming. With MP and POB’s expiring contracts totaling $5.7M, and J-Rich’s trade exception, we have flexibility to get another supporting piece. CV is a good idea and Mike James is available from Houston…

  • Eric

    The warrior fans will boo him off the court the first time he suits up in a Ws uniform. C- Webb will get his feelings hurt and tank the rest of the seson. Mark my words!

  • EJ

    i doubt we get mike james considering we’d be battling houston for playoff position. i like villanueva.

  • Petaluman

    Why is it that the people who most want to get rid of Pietrus think another team is willing to offer something for him that would improve our team?

    I think our roster for the rest of the year is most likely set. We added Croshere and Hudson in the off-season to expand our depth; injuries have kept them inactive (and our rotation smaller than desired). Webber and Watson are here to fill those 2 slots. If Croshere makes it back, so much the better for our usable bigs.

    We can’t use the TE now without cutting someone else from the roster. We might still pull something off with some fancy footwork (say Croshere for a pick, and us taking back a player with the TE), it would most likely have to involve all of the following:

    1. A team trying to dump salary to get under the luxury cap.
    2. They would have to have an expiring contract to trade.
    3. It would have to be small enough not to put us over the luxury cap.
    4. No one else with cap space makes an offer to them that doesn’t require taking back a player.
    5. The expiring contract player would have to be more desireable to us than whoever we dump on them (Croshere in this example).

  • JustPuked

    Petaluman – You summed it in a nutshell. The Warriors have cap flexibility now and they’re not going to screw it up for a temporary fix. While Nelson may be coaching like crazy for the now, Mullin has his eyes on the big picture. The Webber deal certainly fits the bill. He’s relatively cheap, we have the cap space this year to do it and he’s got an expiring contract. Where else are they going to get that?

    Only way Mullin throws that TE into the mix is for something significant. Kidd, Gasol, Brand, a top three pick in the draft, etc. I’m not advocating anything specific just illustrating the magnitude of the opportunity that would have to be available for Mullin to risk the cap space needed to resign Baron, Ellis, Biedrins and Azubuike. Villanueva isn’t cutting it. Mullin has wowed us before (Baron, Dunmurphy, JRich) but I doubt it happens now. My bet is on the off season. Dubs have the TE through the draft and two days past. I expect us to be major players for draft day trade fever.

  • Ewok

    Pietrus is gone for sure.

    Good job MP. I hope you find success. I know you will be a star.

    It’s sad that MP will be gone soon… He has definitely contributed so much.

  • Ewok

    For the price? This is a great move. Superb I must say. CWebb is 34 years old. He still has a lot of skills. He may have slowed a bit, but that doesn’t mean He won’t fit. Opposing teams have always tried to slow our game down forcing us to play half court, sometimes they succeeded, sometimes they didn’t. This time around on a half court scenario, They will have to reckon with Webber, who is solid jumpshooter, great passer, can initiate a pick (for Ellis and BD), great rebounder (with Biedrins on his back), has solid post moves and a great one on one player (Jackson, Barnes and BD will assist him on that).

    I really think he will be a good compliment to Biedrins. Why because Biedrins is not a scoring conscious guy. He rebounds, blocks and scores mostly on putbacks. But with Webber around, Biedrins can improve his scoring portfolio.

    Besides, I don’t think he will play 40 games a minute. He will probably log in 25 to 30. I predict he will be a situational type of player that will be used to disrupt the tempo and momentum of the other team.

    What If he gets injured? No worry for two reasons, For the cheap price we got him and the current stability the team has acquired before he came in, The show goes on. Second reason, Al Harrington has yet to fully establish himself as a four. He will be more motivated now. Webber can do things Harrington couldnt, and vice versa. So it complements. Now, if both learn from each other’s game, That will be TNT. Awesome.

    Then, two players will surely benefit learning from his style. POB, Perovic, Brandan Wright.

    We are deep!

    By the way, Another Bomb news is in the offing. I heard Jason Kidd has an angle with the Warriors and another team. Whether he plays for us, or we get another player of high caliber in a three way deal.

    Bellineli, POB and BW may be involved in this deal too.

    If this materializes, we have a defining team for a championship.

    Comments on my take? Anyone?