Webber, Bullets banking on favorable exchange rate from Warriors

November 15, 1994|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Sun Staff Writer

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Chris Webber likes the Washington Bullets, and badly wants to play alongside former Michigan teammate Juwan Howard. It appears now that the only thing holding that up is just what the Golden State Warriors want in return.

Webber's agent, Fallasha Erwin, was on the phone all day yesterday with Webber, Bullets general manager John Nash and Warriors officials as he attempted to broker a deal that would send the Warriors' restricted free agent to Washington.

"The Bullets still have a strong interest, and the league is looking at this situation closely," Erwin said. "Chris likes the situation in Washington, and they seem to want him badly. Golden State has made it clear they don't want Chris. But what kind of return they try to extract, I don't know."

Technically the two sides can't talk trade, because league rules forbid the trade of a free agent. If the Warriors agree to send Webber to the Bullets, they would first have to sign him to a contract suitable to Washington -- and then trade him.

Although Nash has downplayed the talks, the obstacle appears to be what Golden State wants in return. Washington likely would give up Tom Gugliotta and a first-round pick for Webber. Asking for anything more could kill the deal.

"I think the chances of [the trade] happening are good, but only if the Warriors don't get greedy," said a source close to the negotiations. "If they're greedy, [the Bullets] will back off. Will they try to gut the Bullets out of their future? That's key."

Webber, back in the Bay area, was on the phone constantly with Erwin yesterday getting updates.

"Chris is doing great," Erwin said. "He's anxious to get back to playing."

The 6-foot-9 forward/center, who was last season's Rookie of the Year, had problems with Warriors coach Don Nelson.

Whether those problems led to Webber opting out of his 15-year, $74 million deal is unknown. Nelson recently said he would step down as Golden State's coach if it means Webber would return.

The person left dangling in the entire episode is Gugliotta, Washington's first-round pick in 1992.

"It's not a distraction," said Gugliotta, using his standard response since rumors began last week.

It hasn't showed in his play. The 6-10 power forward out of North Carolina State had 20 points and eight rebounds in Saturday's win in Miami and has continued playing hard.

"A guy like Tom, it's probably on his mind," said guard Doug Overton. "But he's playing. He's been a professional the whole way."

Calbert Cheaney said the main focus has been to improve on the team's 4-1 record.

"We know we have a good team and we're playing well," he said. "We're not worrying about that at all."

Scott Skiles, who was traded from the Orlando Magic to the Bullets in the off-season, said the rumors are all part of the business.

"A couple of years ago I used to say there were three or four guys in the league who were untradeable, then Charles Barkley got traded to Phoenix," Skiles said. "If you're going to be so sensitive to a rumor that it's going to affect your game, you're not being mature and probably shouldn't be in the NBA."

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