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Nellie wants Webber back on Warriors nearly 14 years after feud ended first stint together

By JOSH DUBOW, AP Sports Writer

January 28, 2008

AP - Jan 27, 8:45 pm EST

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Coach Don Nelson wants to bring free agent forward Chris Webber back to Golden State, nearly 14 years after a feud ended their first stint together.

"I hope that it happens to be quite honest with you," Nelson said Sunday before the Warriors beat the New York Knicks 106-104. "I think our team needs it."

Webber was acquired by the Warriors in a draft day trade with Orlando in 1993 after becoming just the second sophomore ever to be the top pick in the NBA draft. He won the Rookie of the Year award and made the playoffs in his only season in Golden State.

But Webber clashed with Nelson and demanded a trade before his second season, and was eventually dealt to Washington in November 1994 for Tom Gugliotta and three first-round picks. At the time, Webber cited unhappiness over Nelson's sometimes abrasive coaching style as a main reason for his wanting out of Golden State.

Nelson was fired shortly after the trade, only to be brought back as Warriors coach last season. Golden State didn't make the playoffs for 12 seasons after Webber was traded, ending the drought last season. Nelson said he and Webber have talked over the years and that both men have matured since their feud more than a decade ago.


"I've learned over the years," Nelson said. "I've softened a bit through some of the experiences I've had. I look back at the time when Chris and I were here early in our careers. We were both pretty stubborn and I was maybe too tough and he was too young to see the positives I was trying to bring to the table. I've learned and I think he has, too. Hey, I'm an old man and he's an old player."

Webber has not played in an NBA game since the Detroit Pistons lost to Cleveland in last season's Eastern Conference finals. The Pistons did not bring Webber back this season and he has been looking for a team to join.

Webber averaged 11.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists last season with Philadelphia and Detroit. He bristled at his reduced role in the postseason, when he averaged 9.9 points and 6.3 rebounds in 25.3 minutes per game.

"I would love to have Chris Webber," Golden State's Stephen Jackson said. "I'm not sure if it will happen or not but if he comes here we'll definitely welcome him with open arms. He's a great player and I'd love to have him. We'll see what happens."

Webber is no longer the dynamic player he was in his first stint with the Warriors, having worn down during a 14-year career that included microfracture surgery on his knee in 2003. Webber was one of the top power forwards in the game during his 6 1/2 years in Sacramento, leading the Kings to the conference finals in 2002.

He remains one of the game's best passing big men, a skill Nelson believes the Warriors are severely lacking. Nelson has mostly played just two big men all season, with Andris Biedrins and Al Harrington sharing the load inside.

Golden State is tied with Denver for sixth place in the Western Conference with a 27-18 record but only had a half-game lead over Portland and Utah, who are tied for eighth.

Nelson said he's not afraid that adding Webber could disrupt the chemistry on a team that made it to the second round of the playoffs a year ago.

"I'm afraid if we don't get him here our team is not strong enough to be a playoff team," Nelson said. "That's my biggest fear. I think if he comes, it can benefit our team, it can benefit his and my relationship, it can benefit players on this team. I think he has a chance to make some of our players better and make our team better. Really that's all that's important. I'll get along with anybody who can help our team."

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Woah... Why the dislike for Chris Paul. Dude is balling out of control out there. He had the Hornets looking like a legit threat out there. They're not a contender, but they could be as early as next year provided the core stays together and healthy.

Uh.... you might wanna revise that. First place in their division with 9 straight wins? I'd say they're contending quite well. I know things have changed since 3 weeks ago but they were still a contender back then too.

And yes as a GSW fan I'm excited at the signing of Webber. We need some toughness on D and I think a veteran like Webber can help us with aspects like that.

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I wouln't say the Lakers were an average team that played above their game. They had one of the harder schedules to start the season and yet managed to do pretty well... Top 3 or so record in the league before Bynum went down. The play of Farmar, Fisher, Ariza and especially Bynum is really the difference in comparison last year when Smush Parker and Brian Cook were the guys getting major minutes... and Smush Parker was starting.

The addition of Gasol makes them a scary team but we'll have to wait to see how they gel. They are definitely a championship contender in years to come with Bryant, Bynum and Gasol if things are even mildly sussessful though.

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They were already VERY good, now they are just far above the league.

Stern wants a Celtics vs. Lakers final, he's going to get it. Lakers will most likely win the title

with that sick line-up. Best frontcourt in the league with Kobe at the backcourt + one of the better benches in the league has to win a championship almost every year, at least 1 in the next 3 years.

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So we're already giving the Lakers the title now Ty? That's gotta be a joke right. Yes, the acquisition of Gasol is great for the team, but I think a certain team from San Antonio may have something to say about you're prediction. And I wouldn't say its a banker that the Celtics are going to the finals either, there is a lack of post season experience in that team, and they will come up against a Pistons team who know the playoffs and each other like the back of their hand. The trades this season have definitely made for a much more open post season, but at this stage, I think it's ludicrous to think any of those trades are making teams bankable for a championship. As Dallas and the Warriors proved last year, you're regular season record doesn't make you a force or not in the playoffs. That's just my opinion, Gasol is a great addition, but he doesn't automatically make them champions, especially having to come through the hard competition in the west. The same as KG/Allen dont make the Celtics champions, even as impressive as they have been this season, I believe they are doing great, but they are also lucky they are in the east.

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They were already VERY good, now they are just far above the league.

Stern wants a Celtics vs. Lakers final, he's going to get it. Lakers will most likely win the title

with that sick line-up. Best frontcourt in the league with Kobe at the backcourt + one of the better benches in the league has to win a championship almost every year, at least 1 in the next 3 years.

We have to wait to see how things gel. The Iverson/Melo pairing hasn't helped Denver all that much, yet people were claiming that they'd win a championship in the next few years. Now they're struggling to stay in the playoffs in a revived and dangerous western conference.

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Yeah it's easy to think right now that the Lakers are gonna win the West from this trade but we have to see how it plays out, I wouldn't put the Celtics in the Finals yet either, I think there's gonna be some surprise teams this year for sure that'll have something to say

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Phoenix, the NBA's fastest team, on verge of adding slow, once-mighty giant -- Shaquille O'Neal

By BOB BAUM, AP Sports Writer

February 6, 2008

PHOENIX (AP) -- The fastest, flashiest team in the NBA could be getting a lot slower -- but much larger -- because of a blockbuster trade few could have seen coming.

The improbable pairing of the Phoenix Suns and Shaquille O'Neal went from rumor to near-reality overnight. The last major roadblock was the 14-time All-Star center passing a physical. A league official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press the deal could be complete Wednesday.


"The process is in play, and that's all I really can say because things have backed up before," Miami Heat coach Pat Riley said Wednesday in Auburn Hills, Mich., where his team was preparing for the Pistons. "Nothing's been completed, and that's where it's at right now."

The deal would send unhappy forward Shawn Marion and guard Marcus Banks to the Heat.

"I don't have any reaction yet because I don't know the truth yet," Heat guard Dwyane Wade said Wednesday morning. "So until the truth comes out, I can't really react to it."

The trade would signal an unexpected change in philosophy for the Suns, adding a 7-foot-1, 325-pound center who has won four NBA championships but has been plagued by injuries in recent years and turns 36 next month. O'Neal has been out with a hip injury and underwent an MRI exam in Miami on Tuesday.

For the three-plus seasons since Steve Nash came to town, Phoenix and its ultra up-tempo style have been the frenetic darlings of NBA fans grown weary of the slow style that has prevailed for years. But the Suns have fallen short in the playoffs, never making it to the finals.

Marion, unhappy being third fiddle to Nash and Amare Stoudemire, asked to be traded before the season began. Stoudemire, meanwhile, dislikes playing out of position at center. The Suns have the best record in the West (34-14) but have not played up to their own or fans' expectations.

On Tuesday night, the Suns pushed back their scheduled shootaround on Wednesday from 9:45 a.m. MST to 4:45 p.m., shortly before they face the New Orleans Hornets.

O'Neal is prepared for a trade, a confidant of his told The AP on Tuesday night.

His associate, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to reveal anything publicly, said a deal could be imminent.

O'Neal didn't speak to reporters before leaving Miami's practice Tuesday and did not accompany the Heat to Detroit. He was expected in Phoenix on Wednesday for a physical.

"I'm not going to talk about it," Riley said. "If in fact things get completed, because there's so much more, then there'll be an official comment about it. Right now, there's nothing but hypotheticals."

Suns general manager Steve Kerr, owner Robert Sarver and coach Mike D'Antoni did not return messages left on their cell phones by the AP.

Speaking Tuesday night on his weekly radio show on Sports 620 KTAR, D'Antoni professed to know nothing about such a deal. However, he said such an acquisition would "mean a lot."

"That's a big question that has to be thought over and pondered," he said.

If Shaq came back to the Pacific Division, he would join a team that has an intense rivalry with the Los Angeles Lakers and O'Neal's old teammate Kobe Bryant.

"Really?" Bryant said when told of the apparently pending deal. "I know he likes the warm weather."

The trade would require a significant financial commitment from the budget-conscious Sarver because O'Neal is scheduled to make $20 million this season and $20 million more each of the next two.

Marion could opt out of the $17 million final year of his contract after this season.

O'Neal entered this season talking about how he wanted to win at least one more title, saying his "legacy" wouldn't be complete unless he left the game with at least five rings.

The Heat, though, have lost 19 of their last 20 games and have the NBA's worst record at 9-37.

"This is the NBA. I'm not really surprised by anything that happens," Wade said. "I'm not surprised by anything that's said."

O'Neal, averaging a career-low 14.2 points per game, is going through a divorce, and his scoring average is nearly 11 1/2 points below his 25.6 career mark. His string of 14 All-Star appearance ended this season.

He missed much of the 2006-07 season with a knee injury and finished that year with career-lows in games (40), scoring (17.3 points), rebounds (7.4), minutes (28.4) and free-throw percentage (.422).

AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds in Miami contributed to this report.

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