Chris Webber has informed everyone of the 'Fab Five' teams he would like to play for, as if we didn't know. Detroit, Miami, San Antonio, Dallas, and the Lakers. How imaginative. Let's see... what two teams were in the NBA Finals last season? Miami and Dallas... check and check. Who won the title the year before that? San Antonio. Check. Before that? Detroit. Check. Before that? The Lakers. Check. His list comprises every team that has won a title this MILLINEUM and last year's finalists. Do you suppose he left Phoenix off because he realizes that he's a monumentally bad fit there (you really need both your legs to play for the Suns), or simply because Phoenix hasn't been to the Finals since Barkley? If NBA rules allowed it, these guys would probably wait until Game 7 of the Finals to sign, just to make sure they had a chance at that ring. Maybe he could just buy one. Surely Slava Medvedenko could use the money.
I understand that this is how things work, and I guess I can't really blame the guy, but I DETEST this practice. Of course, it's worse in baseball, where the starting pitchers in the World Series rarely begin the season with those teams, but it's a significant problem in the NBA too. At least it's a problem for me.
The salary cap is in place to ensure competitive balance. But when significant players refuse to play for anyone but a serious contender, it circumvents the goal. A quick glance around the league reveals several players sitting on the rosters of contenders while being paid the bulk of their salary by another team: Michael Finley, Alonzo Mourning and Jalen Rose off the top of my head.
Of course the zenith of this particular practice occurred when Gary Payton and Karl Malone, two future hall-of-famers, signed with the Lakers for the mid-level exception combined. Nothing made me happier than when that experiment in collusion resulted in the end of the Shaq-Kobe era.
But like I said, you can't really blame Webber. And there's nothing the league can do. This is just a fact of life in the NBA, but it doesn't mean I have to like it.
It will be interesting to see where he ends up. I have to figure that the Spurs are not desperate enough to try this, though in some ways they make the most sense. Webber could actually start in San Antonio, with Duncan sliding over to center and bumping Fabcisco Elbertson to the bench. Dallas actually needs a backup 4, but I doubt Webber is looking for the minutes that come backing up an MVP candidate. Much is being made of Webber's passing in the Lakers triangle, and I agree that it would be a good fit from that perspective. But the Lakers used their mid-level on VladRad, and Webber left $5M on the table in Philly when he took the buy out. Is he going to play for the vet's minimum ($1.3M)? And sure, Lamar and Kwame are hurt now. But they're supposed to be back, and how much would Webber play after that? I also wonder if CWebb wants to return to the west to get destroyed by quality 4's night in and night out. He's a stud in the East - he's a relic in the West.
So I expect him to sign with Detroit or Miami. Miami has their entire mid-level exception to use, since all they did this summer was sit on the beach. Detroit used
some on Flip Murray, but still has most of their exception left. theirs on Nazr Mohammed. Webber would undoubtedly like to play with his hometown Pistons, but I'm not sure if Joe Dumars agrees. Jason Maxiell is starting to play pretty well for them.
Like I said yesterday, I think he ends up in Miami. Where all the old folks go.