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OAKLAND -- The Warriors are "seriously interested" in free-agent big man Chris Webber, a team source confirmed Friday night.

Two team officials confirmed that the Warriors are in discussions with Webber, who played his rookie season with the Warriors in 1993-94. There is some belief the two parties are close to an agreement.

A different source confirmed that Webber and Warriors coach Don Nelson, who separated on bad terms in 1994, have talked in an attempt to put the past behind them.

Warriors executive vice president of basketball operations Chris Mullin has said a big man is on his wish list.

Webber thrived in Nelson's offense as a rookie, but he turns 35 on March 1 and hasn't played in the NBA this season. In addition to conditioning concerns, knee surgeries and 14 seasons in the NBA have robbed Webber of his explosiveness.

There's also the issue of chemistry, one of the Warriors' strengths. Webber is known for his run-ins with coaches and for pouting when things don't go his way.

Webber also has drawn interest from the Los Angeles Lakers, Detroit Pistons and Denver Nuggets, according to sources.

Webber has said he wants to play for a contender, which would seem to make the Pistons his front-runners. But the Detroit News reported that Joe Dumars, the Pistons' president of basketball operations, refuses to buy out one of his current players to make room for Webber. That would mean Webber's only chance of playing in Detroit is if Dumars can make a trade.

The Pistons acquired Webber from Philadelphia last season and did not re-sign him in the offseason.

The Lakers have an open roster spot and reportedly have offered Webber a one-year contract for the veteran minimum -- which for Webber would be $1.2 million.

Like Detroit, the Warriors have a full complement of 15 players. To make room for Webber, they might need to eat a contract. They have only one player on a non-guaranteed contract: rookie guard C.J. Watson, whose second 10-day deal expires Monday.

But Watson has been impressive in his three weeks with the team -- "We're feeling good about him," Mullin said Thursday -- so the Warriors might instead waive guard Troy Hudson, who's out for the season after hip surgery.

If both sides sign off on a deal, it would complete a nearly 15-year odyssey for Webber and the Warriors.

Webber was selected No. 1 overall by the Orlando Magic in the 1993 NBA draft, but he was traded within the hour to the Warriors, who gave up the No. 3 selection (Anfernee Hardaway) and three future first-round picks for the former Michigan star.

Webber won the NBA's Rookie of the Year award in 1993-94, averaging 17.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game and becoming the first rookie to total at least 1,000 points, 500 boards, 250 assists, 150 blocks and 75 steals. The Warriors went 50-32 before being bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the Phoenix Suns.

But Nelson and Webber clashed during the season over the former's treatment of the latter, and in June, Webber exercised an opt-out clause in his 15-year, $74 million contract and became a restricted free agent.

On Nov. 17, 1994, one day after signing Webber to a one-year contract, the Warriors traded him to the Washington Bullets in exchange for Tom Gugliotta and three future first-round choices.

Golden State didn't make the postseason again until last season.

Asked Thursday if he and Webber would be able co-exist, Nelson said:

"Let's talk about that not in anticipation of something happening or not, let's talk about it after the fact. After it happens, that will be a good question."

Notes: The Warriors said forward Austin Croshere will miss at least the next three games -- Sunday's contest against the New York Knicks, plus games at Houston and New Orleans next week -- while continuing his rehabilitation for a sore lower back. Dr. John Belzer, the team's orthopedic specialist, examined Croshere on Friday.

Contact Marcus Thompson II at mthomps2@bayareanewsgroup.com and Geoff Lepper at glepper@bayareanewsgroup.com.

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