Webber traded to 76ers

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 28, 2005

The Associated Press

The Sacramento Kings traded Chris Webber to the Philadelphia 76ers late Wednesday night, parting ways with the cornerstone of their renaissance in a stunning six-player deal that dramatically reshaped both teams.

The Sixers acquired Webber, one of the NBA's elite power forwards and a five-time All-Star, along with reserve forwards Matt Barnes and Michael Bradley. Philadelphia sent forwards Brian Skinner, Kenny Thomas and Corliss Williamson to the Kings, who finally divested themselves of Webber's mammoth contract after years of rumors and speculation.

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Geoff Petrie, the Kings' president of basketball operations, acquired Webber from Washington before the 1999 season in a deal that transformed Sacramento into an interesting, contending team. The Kings then re-signed Webber to a seven-year deal worth approximately $127 million in 2001.

Webber has played exceptionally well in recent weeks, averaging 21.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game - though he isn't the athlete he was before undergoing serious knee surgery following the 2003 playoffs.

''The message that we're sending is that we went out and got a player who's averaging 21 and 10 to go along with our young players,'' King said at a news conference late Wednesday night.

After scoring 30 points in the Kings' 114-104 win over Atlanta on Tuesday night, Webber acknowledged the annual uncertainty over his future with a shrug - but the forward, who has three years and $62 million left on his contract, clearly didn't believe he was about to be traded.

''It's something I live with,'' Webber said. ''It gets very old, but there's nothing you can do about it. If I believe everything I read and everything I hear, I'd be on an emotional roller-coaster.''

Though both Webber and Peja Stojakovic denied rumors of a rift between Sacramento's stars, Stojakovic demanded a trade from the Kings last summer for unclear reasons.

The Kings had no intention of granting his request, but Stojakovic - the NBA's second-leading scorer last season - hasn't been the same player since Webber returned from surgery last season, looking tentative and deferring to Webber on offense.

Philadelphia president Billy King was looking to make a deal to improve the Sixers' frontcourt as they make their playoff push. The Sixers are 26-27 and just a half-game behind Boston for first place in the Atlantic Division, and Webber's pairing with Allen Iverson should be one of the Eastern Conference's most potent duos.

The Kings have the NBA's seventh-best record at 34-20, and the deal is a tremendously risky move by Petrie, who had never made a significant in-season trade before this season. He has made two in recent weeks: The Kings acquired Cuttino Mobley from Orlando for Doug Christie last month.

The Kings were in Dallas on Wednesday night preparing for a game against the Mavericks - the first in a six-game road trip, their longest of the season.

King insisted he wouldn't part with any of his prized nucleus of young players to make a deal and he didn't have to.

Thomas had fallen out of favor with first-year Sixers coach Jim O'Brien, while Skinner was a free-agent bust. Williamson was a valuable sixth man off the bench, but none of them have the pedigree of Webber.

Williamson, a first-round draft pick by the Kings in 1995, played five years in Sacramento before being traded to Toronto for Christie following the 1999-00 season.

The Sixth Man of the Year in 2001-02 with the Pistons, Williamson has a career average of 11.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. He is averaging 10.8 points and 3.7 rebounds in 22 minutes per game this season.

Thomas, in his sixth year in the league, is averaging 11.3 points and 6.6 rebounds this season after averaging a double-double - 13.6 points and 10.1 rebounds - last season for the Sixers.

Skinner, who will be playing for his fifth team in seven seasons, missed about a month earlier this season with an injured left knee and is averaging only 2.0 points and 2.6 rebounds.

Barnes, a Sacramento native, has been a seldom-used reserve for the Kings this season, though he took Peja Stojakovic's spot in the starting lineup recently. Bradley was acquired earlier in the season in Sacramento's deal for Mobley, but hasn't played much.