SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- When Chris Webber returns to the Sacramento Kings' lineup on Tuesday, he plans to take it slow.
Webber will make his season debut in the Kings' home game
against the Los Angeles Clippers. He missed the first 50 games
while recovering from offseason knee surgery, and was suspended the
past eight games -- five for a violation of the NBA's drug policy
and three for his conviction on charges of lying to a grand jury.
Webber is expected to start against the Clippers, but he won't
play big minutes until he has a chance to get back into the flow
with his teammates. Despite his absence, the Kings lead the NBA in
scoring and winning percentage.
"We're going to see about how long I can play," Webber said
after practice Monday. "It's about seeing guys like Jerry
Stackhouse and Allan Houston who had similar injuries. You kind of
have to take your time.
"There's already going to be a transition period with the team
having me back, so I don't want to make it inconsistent by coming
back and getting re-injured. I'm just thinking positive and trying
to do my best."
Either Vlade Divac or All-Star Brad Miller will come off the
bench if Webber is in the starting lineup. Both Divac and Miller
said they don't care who starts, while backup forwards Darius
Songaila and Tony Massenburg said they won't mind reduced playing
"There's not an ego thing on this team at all," said Miller,
who had 16 points and 10 rebounds in the Kings' victory over
Phoenix on Sunday night. He had missed the previous seven games
after spraining his right foot in the All-Star game.
Webber led the Kings with 23.0 points, 10.5 rebounds and 5.4
assists per game last season, but the five-time All-Star injured
his knee in the second game of the conference semifinals against
Following surgery to repair a torn meniscus, Webber began a
lengthy rehabilitation process. The team bought an underwater
treadmill and devoted plenty of resources to Webber's recovery,
which proceeded slowly through training camp and into the winter.
But Sacramento has barely missed a beat in his absence. The
Kings have the NBA's best record at 43-15, and they lead the Los
Angeles Lakers by five games in the race for their third straight
Pacific Division title.
Webber was activated from the injured list after the All-Star
break. He was suspended a day later, but he has been practicing
with the Kings and talking with his coaches.
"They've just said that I should come in and play my game,"
Webber said. "I've also had a chance to watch this team. I don't
want to mess up our flow. I think the main thing is for us to