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Bibby might sway Webber

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Jason Williams for Mike Bibby?

You're kidding, right?

Geoff Petrie's latest draft-day maneuver is yet another of his NBA heists, eclipsing even last year's Corliss Williamson-Doug Christie trade. This is big — no, this is huge — for two reasons: (1) Bibby is a superior point guard, and (2) free-agent-to-be Chris Webber knows Bibby is a superior point guard.

This just might do it.

This might seal a new Webber deal.

By swapping point guards with the Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies late Wednesday, the Sacramento Kings not only solidified their backcourt, but they addressed one of Webber's main concerns. Emotions aside — and his fondness for Williams was genuine — the All-Star power forward also was too familiar with his former teammate's weaknesses, namely, a lack of maturity and failure to develop his considerable skills.

In fact, the major distinction between the third-year point guards — and their styles contrast dramatically — is that Bibby improved over the course of three seasons and Williams didn't. Not enough anyway. In spite of his athletic gifts and a terrific opportunity, Williams never rode the momentum of his dazzling rookie season.

His judgment remained flawed, at times exasperating. He failed to develop a consistent mid-range game, continued to throw ill-advised, high-risk passes, refused to utilize his quickness and attack the basket, and never embraced Rick Adelman's emphasis on improved team defense.

On several occasions last season, a frustrated Webber even suggested that backup point guard Bobby Jackson deserved more playing time — at Williams' expense, of course.

So while some of those close to Williams believe he would have benefited from a firmer hand, a la Larry Brown's tough-love approach to Allen Iverson, the point is moot. The one-time Kings phenom became expendable, his act having worn thin on both coaches and teammates alike. Additionally, though he maintained a loyal following here and in other NBA markets, his stature within the league was clearly diminished. As one Eastern Conference GM noted, "The Grizzlies made the deal for one reason, to sell tickets."

Talented and deeper than at any time in history, the Kings need substance, not flash, and that's what they obtained in Bibby: a solid, if unspectacular player who is a better shooter, distributor (8.2 assists per game last year) and defender.

His game is not a passion play. His style will not elicit gasps of amazement. He has been called "soft" and "stoic," and at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, lacks size and bulk. But he is younger (23) and more stable than Williams, who turns 26 at the start of next season, and providing Webber returns, the Kings are an improved team.

Surely Webber has noticed.

Besides, the alternatives are not that appealing: Orlando covets Webber but can't make a move without first unloading Bo Outlaw's $6 million salary, and for whatever reason, seems intent on obtaining Antonio Davis. New York and Indiana also lack cap room and reportedly are unwilling to part with Marcus Camby/Allan Houston and Jermaine O'Neal, respectively, in a sign-and-trade arrangement. Houston appears satisfied with forming a nucleus around Steve Francis, Cuttino Mobley and rookie Eddie Griffin. Detroit and Chicago have cap room but no immediate hopes of contending.