Webber's wish list: Heat, Pistons, Mavs, Spurs, Lakers
What does the buyout mean for Chris Webber's fantasy value? It will depend largely on where he ends up.
C-Webb used to be a fantasy monster, of course; arguably the best forward in the game during his days with the Kings in the late '90s and early 2000s. But his left knee got crankier and crankier and eventually, so did the owners who had him. Since being traded to Philadelphia, he's never fit in and it showed in his totals.
Webber will likely wind up with a veteran-laden team looking for an additional piece to the puzzle, which doesn't particularly bode well for a major bump-up in fantasy value. Among the reported suitors, the best fit might be in Miami where he could help the Heat while Shaquille O'Neal prepares to return from knee surgery. The Heat are in great need of offense and Webber, despite his diminishing skills, can still provide rebounding and passing and that'll allow Dwyane Wade to work off the ball a bit more often.
In deeper leagues, Webber will still be worthy of a roster spot if he lands in Miami, especially if O'Neal takes his time in returning to a full workload. But if he winds up with the Pistons or Lakers -- two other teams reported to have considerable interest -- his stock won't be as strong. Detroit has too many other contributors, while L.A. already features Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom, who is expected back relatively soon. Although Webber's passing ability fits Phil Jackson's system nicely, his touches and impact will be limited by having two stars firmly in place.
On Tuesday, we should know C-Webb's next destination. It's sad to see Webber bounce from team to team as his career winds down, but don't get sentimental and expect him to turn the clock back a few years. It's best to look elsewhere.
"This is the best I've felt in three years," Webber said in a phone interview. "Now the thing I want to do most is win a championship, put myself back on that kind of level."
Webber didn't divulge any order or preferences when listing those teams but did acknowledge that the Mavericks, believed to be offering less playing time than anyone in the group, was the least likely destination.
Early indications in San Antonio, meanwhile, suggest that the Spurs -- whose desire to get younger and more athletic and the swing positions is well-chronicled -- are unlikely to pursue Webber.
Each of the other three teams on Webber's list, by contrast, does have a need and an interest.
Miami has major depth issues even when Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade are healthy and pursued Webber's former Michigan teammate Jalen Rose when Rose was bought out by New York in November. The Heat, possessing their full mid-level salary-cap exception worth in excess of $5 million, also have the ability to outbid any of the aforementioned suitors, although Miami will stray into luxury-tax territory if it spends, say, $2 million to bring Webber in for the rest of the season.
The Pistons, sources said, immediately thrust themselves into the running, intrigued by the idea of adding the local legend as they continue to revamp their front line in the wake of Ben Wallace's free-agent defection to Chicago.
Webber's experience, size and game are also bound to appeal to the young Lakers, who recently lost two frontcourt starters to injury (Lamar Odom and Kwame Brown) and run an offense (coach Phil Jackson's triangle) that could make the most of Webber's passing skills.
"My father said I haven't smiled on the court in about three years," Webber said. "I just want to get back to playing with a smile on my face and playing with a team that can really vie for title. I want to be an integral part of a championship team."
The 33-year-old added that he hopes to have his new address "by Monday, even though three or four teams want me by Friday."
A new deal can't happen that quickly because Webber must wait two business days to clear waivers once his buyout from the Sixers is made official. Webber said he expects paperwork on the buyout to be completed by Thursday morning at the latest.
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.
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