Why the Webber trade makes sense

Updated: March 4, 2005, 11:31 AM ET
By John Hollinger | ESPN Insider
The Sacramento Kings' trade of Chris Webber for three role players Wednesday sent mouths agape throughout the NBA. He's been on the block all year, so his being traded wasn't the surprise – it was the slim pickings Sacramento received in return that caused the shockwaves.

The ransom the Kings received for Webber and salary ballast Matt Barnes and Michael Bradley was the frontcourt trio of Kenny Thomas, Corliss Williamson and Brian Skinner. Suffice it to say nobody is sitting around the watercooler in Sacramento saying, "Oh my God, you mean we got Thomas and Williamson!" (Incidentally, Wednesday wasn't exactly a banner day for Kings fans. They also found out a deal for a new arena fell through, which means we're one step closer to seeing a basketball arena next to The Palms in Vegas.)

Saturday night, however, Sacramento GM Geoff Petrie's reputation as a shrewd mover might have been reaffirmed after the Kings' 101-99 victory at Philadelphia.

You might think the Webber deal was a salary dump, but that wasn't the case. Webber is owed nearly $62 million over the next three seasons, while the Kings' new trio will receive a similar amount. Sure, the Kings will have $6 million more to play with in 2007, when Williamson's contract expires, but that's a small benefit that's way off in the future. It hardly seems worth trading a star forward merely for that.

So, why in heaven's name would the Kings do this? Kings GM Geoff Petrie is the best in the business, so there has to be a reason here ... um, right?

Fear not, Kings fans. From Sacramento's end, I can come up with three legitimate reasons for consummating this deal: defense, depth and Peja Stojakovic. If you add up the advantages, the deal no longer looks so one-sided. Let's run through each: