By PETER VECSEY
January 14, 2007 -- EVIDENTLY Gregg Popovich and this chief petty observer have at least one thing in common: We carry grudges into the hereafter.
As coherent as my logic may have been regarding Chris Webber and the Spurs joining forces, the team's commandant never seriously pondered a proposal. Shame on me for failing to take history into account as it pertains to the pair.
In 1993-94, Webber and Popovich were members of the Warriors; Chris the '93 draft's pinnacle pick by way of Orlando for Anfernee Hardaway and three No. 1s, Gregg an anonymous assistant under Don Nelson.
We're all familiar how dreadfully the relationship involving the obstinate head coach and the intractable regal rookie ended.
Popovich's disdain toward Webber apparently hasn't dissolved to any degree. Though his volume control was lowered long ago, if not switched off, for years afterward Pop would go off on an unprovoked tirade about what a bad guy Webber is whenever his name came up in conversation.
Time does not heal wounds, that's my attitude, and I think that also goes for Popovich, whose handle on Webber, sundry skills and showy stats notwithstanding, hasn't exactly been invalidated.
That brings us to the 20-14 Pistons, seemingly on the precipice of signing Webber Tuesday once he clears waivers. Though Dr. Kevorkian, another home town hero, may be more in line with what the team needs - put out of its misery rather than add to it - following back-to-back stumblebum efforts against the Bobcats and Hawks.
Either that or maybe it's time to supplant Flip Saunders with assistant Terry Porter. "I just can't see anyone agreeing to play for Flip if he doesn't have to," slammed an expert witness who, as a rule, can scarcely touch the rim.
At any rate, sources say Webber initially was listing toward the Lakers, but veered sharply in Detroit's direction when agent Aaron Goodwin couldn't get Phil Jackson to commit a lead role to his client. That's why, as of yesterday, anyway, he hadn't returned any calls from GM Mitch Kupchak.
Webber clearly views himself as still having a lot on the ball. But don't fall for his rhetoric. His first priority, he claims, is to win a championship. Fact is, his main concerns are to secure a promise to start and to play major minutes.
In other words, as I'm sure Popovich is gleefully pointing out to people, it's all about Webber, as usual, indulging his whims and satisfying his wishes.
Should the Lakers meet Webber's demands before Tuesday he might still wind up chasing a title in Tinseltown. An educated guess is that Gary Payton's L.A. log (same agent) may be weighing heavily in his decision-making process.
Meanwhile, Pistons president Joe Dumars already has come across. In a show of assurance, Nazr Mohammed, signed to a 5-year, $30.5 million guarantee during the offseason, already has been benched. The neon vacancy sign at the center position is flashing passionately.
By the way, for the record, Webber was paid $36 million by the 76ers to go away quietly and quickly, not $38 million as reported. Meaning he gave up $7 million that Philly owed him over the next 11/2 seasons. On the same front, when Isiah Thomas finally does the right thing for the team and consents to buy out Steve Francis, I'm also here to tell the 76ers have no intention of making room for him at any price. It's amusing to keep reading the Pistons have been interested for years in Bonzi Wells. Yeah, dating back to '98 when they drafted him No. 11 overall.