Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Happy Hour 01/11: The Tangled Web Webber Weaves

The rumblings began over the weekend that Philadelphia might show Chris Webber the door, and today it became official - though the Sixers still sent C-Webb on his way with a sweet check (for presumably less than the $43 million remaining on his contract) to stick in his pocket.

That leads to the question of where Webber will end up next, and when that's the case, the possibility of returning to Detroit to play for his hometown team inevitably comes up. And the Pistons are among the five teams Webber is interested in joining, now that he's a free agent. So would he be a good match with DEE-troit BAS-ket-ball?

According to some reports - for instance, ESPN's Chris Broussard earlier today on "Cold Pizza" - it's close to a done deal. I'm hardly an expert (though I love to try and pretend I'm one here), but I think Webber and the Pistons are a bad fit.

Could the Pistons use Webber? Well, sure - it wouldn't hurt to have someone with his talent, even if it's not what he used to be. Detroit's been pretty inconsistent this season, especially with Chauncey Billups' calf injury. Fortunately, the Eastern Conference's mediocrity has allowed the Pistons to remain near the top of the standings.

He'd be a fantastic sixth man. And with fewer minutes to tire him out, Webber might find some of the energy we remember him having - much as it has with another formerly explosive player, Antonio McDyess. But that presents an immediate question. Would he be willing to come off the bench here, as McDyess has, or would he want to be a starter?

For some Pistons fans, the answer is a no-brainer. Webber's an obvious upgrade over Nazr Mohammed, so get him. I'm sure Flip Saunders is at least intrigued by the idea of being able to run some offense through Webber at the high post. And maybe C-Webb could start while Rasheed Wallace comes off the bench, something that Saunders has been toying with - for whatever reason - over the last couple of games.

However, it's play in the low post that Detroit's been lacking - and has been for the last few years. If Webber was willing to do what 'Sheed isn't - get down low and pound the ball in the lane - then he might be a better fit here. But he's never been the type of player who's comfortable with his back to the basket. And those knees don't allow him to leap over defenders as he used to.

Plus, if he was on the roster, Webber would take minutes away from the one guy who seems interested in fighting for points down low: Jason Maxiell. Maxiell's one of the reasons Joe Dumars wouldn't open the vault to re-sign Ben Wallace, and at this point, I think it might be in the Pistons' better interests to continue his development, rather than stunt his growth by relegating him to a practice player and bench warmer.

But that's just talking about the on-court stuff. It's the off-court side to this potential pairing that concerns me. I think a lot of people still hold one hell of a grudge against Webber for actions that virtually destroyed the University of Michigan basketball program.

In addition, when Webber was a free agent back in 2002 and had a chance to sign with the Pistons, he criticized the organization for playing its games in Auburn Hills, a Detroit suburb, rather than within the city limits. Of course, a big reason he may have opted to stay in Sacramento was that Michigan had just been freshly penalized by the NCAA. Not only was it revealed that Webber took almost $300,000 from a booster, but he lied about it to a grand jury.

And I think plenty of hard feelings remain over that. I'd go so far as to say that even though he's a Detroiter, he's hated in this area. But that might be some of my Ann Arbor bias showing through. Maybe time has healed some wounds and I'm misreading the Detroit fanbase. I'm sure plenty of Pistons fans would be willing to forgive and forget if Webber gave the team 20 points and 10 rebounds a night, and helped DEE-troit BAS-ket-ball regain its championship contender status.

Then again, there's still that timeout many of us can't forget...

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  • At January 11, 2007 6:05 PM, Blogger KevinA76 said…

    Webber screwd up, no arguement here. But I still love the guy. I'm one of the biggest Fab Five fans in the world - strictly on a talent level.

    Before Dumars signs him, Webber needs to understand that he's not going to be a 35 minute guy. If he's OK with that role - either starting and playing 20-25, or coming off the bench for 15, I say sign him ASAP.

    Maxiel will find his minutes, I think.

  • At January 12, 2007 2:53 AM, Blogger Mini Me said…

    Detroit seems like a perfect fit for Webber. Think the softie wants to go back to the West after playing in the East now? Highly doubtful. When asked on TNT tonight if he had to go to a play where he would start, at first he said no but then he said yes. That shows you that winning a championship isn't his first and only goal. Why would he care about starting otherwise?

  • At January 12, 2007 10:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I tend to agree with you, Ian. No doubt Webber can still ball, he averaged 20 and 10 last year with no knees. But the uptempo style Flip wants his team to play doesn't suit the slow shuffle of ligamentless knees. However, If Larry or Rick were still hear I think Webber would be deadly in the walk up, half court offense. Sounds like we will soon find out if we are wrong...I hope I am.

    - hitman

  • At January 12, 2007 12:24 PM, Blogger Big Al said…

    From all of Dumars' interest in C-Webb, I think a few things become clear...

    They think the signing of Nazr was a mistake.

    That McDyess' slow start is more than just a aberration, that he may be on the decline.

    That the team needs some kind of spark, much as 'Sheed sparked the '04 team.

    They will not win the NBA title as presently constructed.

    With the rumors of the Pistons' interest in both Bonzi Wells and Mo Pete, the Pistons are going to do something relatively big to shake up the team.

    Good Lord, Wells, Sheed, and Webber on the same team? They aren't paying Flip enough to deal with that volatile mix...

  • At January 12, 2007 4:39 PM, Blogger SkoneyHillProductions said…

    With Bonzi, Sheed, and C-Webb on the same team there may not be enough grass to keep that trio happy!


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