It appears that the deal making Chris Webber an official citizen of Nellieville is all but done. So says, C-Webb, at least.
As reported by Marc Stein:
Chris Webber told ESPN.com on Monday night that he will arrive in Oakland on Tuesday to officially re-join the Golden State Warriors and play again for Don Nelson.
"I'll be there tomorrow," Webber said via e-mail. "It's a done deal."
Throughout the Webber-to-Oaktown rumor phase, it certainly seemed that there was plenty of negative sentiment from pundits and fans alike surrounding the value of such a move for the Warriors. Concerns have abounded that Webber doesn't fit into the Warriors' fast-paced system and that his skills have atrophied to a point where he won't be of use to the Dubs.
No such worries are present in this space.
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Well, not entirely.
It isn't that the critiques of the signing don't make sense. Webber was an undoubtedly better fit as a starter on the grind-it-out-in-the-half-court Pistons than he would be in Golden State. Having him on the floor for long stretches would require the Warriors to adjust strategy far more than they would like to, and this team isn't changing its entire philosophy for a 34-year-old free agent off the scrap heap. And yes, his skills have undoubtedly diminished.
But here is the catch to all that: Webber isn't being brought in to fill the same role he did in Detroit.
C-Webb started 42 of the 43 games he appeared in as a Piston. That will also be the approximate percentage of the time that Webber comes off the bench for the Warriors.
This team doesn't need him to be a mainstay in the middle the way the Pistons did. The Warriors have that in Andris Biedrins, an excellent defender and rebounder who isn't going anywhere anytime soon. He gets up and down the floor well enough for a big man and has done a very nice job in the Warriors' run-and-gun system.
Throughout much of the regular season, Chris Webber will be nothing more than a spot-minutes-per-game reserve for this Warriors team. He will provide some added size and bulk for a team that is largely lacking in that department, and, when called upon, he will provide the one asset Biedrins doesn't give the Warriors: a post scoring threat.
Chris Webber isn't being brought in to augment the Warriors' frenetic style. Certainly, Nellie and Chris Mullin aren't that foolish. Webber is being brought in to make a difference when for the Warriors when the games slow down. This happens with particular regularity in the playoffs, when defenses tighten up and the games become far more halfcourt-oriented (ask the Suns about this for details). If the Warriors have one particular weakness, it is that their offense tends to stagnate when opponents halt the tempo, especially late in games. This team is built to run, run and run some more, and its personnel simply isn't going to be as effective when teams can force them into trying to run designed sets and half-court offenses rather than the track meet style they prefer.
To that end, Webber is a part of the solution. He isn't the player he once was, but he still provides a bigger threat in the post than the Warriors currently have on their roster. He can still rebound the basketball very well, and he will if nothing else provide someone to whom opposing defenses must pay attention. This will keep opponents honest and prevent them from cheating out towards the Warriors' dangerous perimeter players late in games.
Again, it can't be stressed enough that bringing Webber in isn't a move oriented toward making this team a better regular-season unit. Sure, they need some depth at big man, and they will be insured should Biedrins get injured, but this is already a very good regular season team. If the Warriors have to use C-Webb on the floor for long stretches of time during regular season run-and-gun games, it certainly won't be an optimal situation. But a few minutes here and there with four guys rather than five flying up and down the floor and one not being quite as active won't be the downfall of this team. However, regular season basketball is different from playoff basketball, and despite being renowned as one of playoff basketball's bigger chokers of the last decade, Chris Webber provides the type of help that the Warriors will most definitely need come springtime.
It also doesn't hurt to keep two other factors in mind regarding the Webber signing. The first is that the Warriors aren't exactly breaking the bank for him. Webber is reported to be receiving a prorated contract at the veteran's minimum, which means that if he stays with the team through the rest of the season, he will make less than $600,000. Not the world's biggest financial risk. Furthermore, at the risk of stating the absurdly obvious, signing Webber means other Western Conference competitors can't do so. There is certainly some belief that he could provide help for a lot of teams around the West, especially the Lakers and Mavericks. By taking Webber off an already slim market, the Warriors will put foes around the conference in even more dire straits so far as bringing in big man help is concerned (remember, DJ Mbenga is a commodity these days).
Ultimately, signing Chris Webber doesn't vault the Warriors into title contention, and there are certainly some legitimate questions about how well he will fit in Oaktown. But Chris Webber isn't gong to Oakland to fit in. He is being brought in to provide a portion of the game the team doesn't already have. So long as it is in small doses, he may be able to do just that much.