From MOP Squad Sports

Philadelphia 76ers
76ers buy out Chris Webber's contract
By DAN GELSTON, AP Sports Writer
Jan 11, 2007 - 6:44:59 AM

PHILADELPHIA - C-ya, C-Webb. The Philadelphia 76ers completed the paperwork to buy out the remaining 1 1/2 seasons on Chris Webber's contract Wednesday, ending two disappointing years for the former All-Star who did not want to be part of the franchise's rebuilding process.

Philadelphia 76ers forward Chris Webber complains about a call during the second half of their basketball game against the Orlando Magic in Orlando, Fla., in this Dec. 9, 2006 file photo. The 76ers completed the paperwork to buy out the remaining 1 1/2 seasons on Webber's contract Wednesday, Jan 10, 2007. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

Webber missed 11 of the last 14 games, officially with foot and ankle injuries, but the 33-year-old forward had become frustrated with his reduced role and the fact that the Sixers are mired in last place in the Eastern Conference.

If there are no problems after the paperwork is forwarded to the NBA office, the Sixers expect to waive Webber on Thursday. Once he clears waivers after 48 business hours, teams will be eligible to sign him.

Webber was due nearly $21 million this season and $22 million next season.

"I thank Chris for everything that he did for this organization," team president Billy King said. "This move was made to help this organization move in a different direction and allow Chris to move on."

Webber sent an e-mail statement thanking the Sixers and Philadelphia fans for their support.

"I appreciate (chairman) Ed Snider and Billy King for their cooperation with the buyout of my contract," he said. "I believe this is the best situation for both parties and I look forward to continuing my basketball career."

Acquired in a stunning blockbuster deal from Sacramento on Feb. 23, 2005, right before the trade deadline, Webber seemed unhappy in Philadelphia almost from the start. He clashed with former coach Jim O'Brien in the last half of the 2005 season, calling the final 21 games "timeout times 50," a reference to his infamous gaffe at Michigan in the 1993 national championship game.

Webber bounced back under coach Maurice Cheeks last season with solid averages of 20.2 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 75 games, the most games he'd played in the last six seasons.

He said in training camp he was feeling as strong physically as he had since undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee in June 2003.

But Webber appeared to fall out of favor with Cheeks early this season, and was benched in several fourth quarters with little explanation. His minutes and production dramatically declined, and Webber eventually met with King to express his unhappiness over his situation.

Webber made it clear several times this season he wanted to end his career with a contender. With Allen Iverson traded to Denver last month, that's two All-Stars off the roster in a matter of weeks. The Sixers have three first-round picks in the draft and are rebuilding through youth.

Still, Cheeks refused to call the Iverson-Webber pairing a failure.

"I thought Allen and Chris, they did well together, particularly the first half," Cheeks said. "Last year they played well. You had two guys that obviously can score the ball. You have Chris Webber who can pass and score the ball, and rebound the ball. So there were times when it did work."

Webber, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1993 draft, averaged 11 points and 8.3 rebounds in 18 games this season. He has career averages of 21.4 points and 10 rebounds in 779 career games.

"He was a great teammate," Kyle Korver said after the Knicks beat the Sixers 106-99 on Wednesday night. "I'm going to miss him a lot. I wish I could have played with him more. He's a great person and if he gets put in the right spot he's going to do really well somewhere."


AP Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney in New York contributed to this report.

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