There is more on the pairing of AI and Webber at the bottom.The trade hasn't produced the expected results. Webber, a five-time All-Star forward, is still adjusting to his new surroundings, and the 76ers have fallen in the Eastern Conference standings.
"The frustrating thing is to come from a system where you're playing for a championship, and you think you can offer some things, and it doesn't go the way that you want it to go," says Webber, a 12-year NBA veteran. "I've gone from playing for a championship to playing for a playoff spot."
Philadelphia (32-34) holds the eighth and final spot in the East playoff race, with 16 games remaining. The Sixers were tied with the Boston Celtics for the Atlantic Division lead — and the No. 3 seed in the playoffs — when they acquired Webber hours before the trade deadline on Feb. 23.
"K.G. (Kevin Garnett) and myself pride ourselves on being 20 (points), 10 (rebounds) and five (assists) guys," Webber says. "I was that until the day I got here."
Webber has played 11 games with the Sixers, averaging 14.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists — and 31.8 minutes. That's a dropoff from his career averages of 21.9 points, 10.1 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 38.0 minutes.
In 46 games with Sacramento this season, he averaged 21.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 36.3 minutes.
"It's tough for a guy who has been in a system for so long to come into a totally new situation and integrate himself on the fly," ESPN analyst Greg Anthony says.
The same day Webber was traded, the Celtics reacquired Antoine Walker— and are 11-1 since, taking control of the Atlantic division race.
That turn of events, combined with Webber's lack of productivity, has led to finger-pointing in the Philadelphia media, most of it directed at coach Jim O'Brien. He has been accused of not using Webber properly and blamed for the player's ineffectiveness. Columnist Stephen A. Smith of The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote last week that O'Brien should be fired.
"Stephen A. has an opinion," Sixers president/general manager Billy King says. "I don't put much stock in his opinion. (O'Brien's) job is secure."
O'Brien the key cog for Sixers
At the center of Webber's frustrations is the system the 76ers run. For nine seasons that system has catered to Iverson's game of dominating the basketball. But that limits Webber, who says he needs the ball in his hands to be effective.
O'Brien decides the system, which places him at the center of the finger-pointing and Webber's frustrations about not getting the ball.
"When I got here at first, if you get it, you get it. If you don't, you don't," Webber says. "The type of player that I am, I think I need the ball in my hands. That's the biggest thing. Let me facilitate the offense."
O'Brien gets blamed the most. But Iverson, as the team leader, also gets blamed, as does Webber, who hasn't produced when he has had the opportunity.
Webber "has to do things in Philly that aren't the same as what he did in Sacramento because of the surrounding talent," Anthony says.
King backs O'Brien's use of Webber, saying it takes time to incorporate new players into a system. He notes that Walker, who has thrived since his trade, returned to a familiar situation in Boston, where he played seven seasons.
"People tend to forget that I said when we made the (Webber) trade that the biggest challenge is we have 28 games to blend in a star player with our system," King says. "Will 28 games be enough? We'll find out."
O'Brien says the biggest hindrance has been a lack of practice time. The Sixers played six games in eight days after acquiring Webber. That left little time for Webber and his new teammates to become familiar with each other on the court.
"There is a period of adjustment that ... requires a degree of patience during a period of urgency," O'Brien says. "You can't force the changes you have to make."
O'Brien has tweaked the Sixers' schemes in recent weeks, most notably on offense, to take advantage of the multitalented Webber.
He still wants Iverson, the league's top scorer, to push the ball on the fast break and attack the basket. But in halfcourt sets, the Sixers are looking to get the ball to Webber and let him make plays. Previously, they relied on Iverson's dribble penetration in those situations.
Two plays in particular stand out, O'Brien says.
Against Cleveland, Iverson passed the ball to Webber, made a cut off him and sank a three-point field goal from the corner after getting a screen from a teammate.
Another time Iverson scored on a layup off a pass from Webber.
"These are opportunities Allen was not getting prior to Chris getting here," O'Brien says. "It's going to get better."