In a league driven by stars and stat production, the smallest of niches has been carved out for the community to appreciate 37-year-old Nuggets point guard Andre Miller. His career highlights won’t truly dazzle fans for years to come the same way that many All Stars will, but they’ll still contain absurd half-court oops that illustrate his understanding of the game.
Andre Miller has only missed six games due to injury in his entire 16 year career. His “old man” game of posting up in order to facilitate alongside his general half court brilliance mixed in with the occasional full court alley oop make him one of the most consistent players to watch and appreciate. Long having the backing from Denver’s Front Office (namely Masai Ujiri) and longtime head coach George Karl, Which makes it a shame to see that this season he’s averaging 5.9 points, 3.3 assists, and a mere 19 minutes a game, all career lows. The situation overflowed when Miller received his first career “DNP Coach’s Decision” after Denver’s franchise worst eight game losing streak. After a disagreement with Coach Brian Shaw’s rationale, he was suspended from the team for four games for detrimental conduct (later reduced to two).
With new reports that Miller could be getting shopped to a contender, let’s look at the five teams who could use him the most. With a one year, $5 million deal with a player option for the following year, he’s a very enticing commodity for a team needing a backup point guard. Assuming salaries would match or go in Denver’s favor, I would infer that at most they’ll try and pry a project-asset or a second round draft pick for The Professor’s services.
1. Golden State Warriors (current backup point guard: Toney Douglas/Kent Bazemore):
This seems to be the destination gaining the most traction as on paper it seems to simply be a good fit. It seems pretty evident that the Warriors will be in trouble come the playoff months if Mark Jackson will have to rely on the above two names to give Stephen Curry bench minutes. Miller is a prime candidate to come off of the bench and manage the second unit, or facilitate and alternate ball handling duties with Andre Iguodala when Curry/Thompson are operating off ball down the stretch. Also, the Warriors of all teams will know he’s no slouch on his own offensively(Link)
2. Sacramento Kings (current backup point guard: Jimmer Fredette):
The Kings made a pricey gamble when acquiring Rudy Gay from the Toronto Raptors. It’s unclear exactly what their goal was when they acquired him (as the West is loaded with playoff talent), but it’s a move that doesn’t seem to be particularly negative as the forward has average 19.5 PPG while shooting 49.7%. The trade did cost them Greivis Vasquez however, and if this team hopes to gain traction and make a push for the eighth seed, the locker room could sorely use the veteran presence of Miller when its longest tenured NBA player is Travis Outlaw.
3. Los Angeles Clippers (current backup point guard: Jamal Crawford/Darren Collison):
With Chris Paul separating his shoulder, Darren Collison has been thrust into an all too familiar role as a starting point guard in LA. However, the team has recently waived Maalik Waynes and their is no backup facilitator if Collison were to go down with injury. Jamal Crawford has never truly been a point guard although he’s listed as one. Despite the known leadership qualities of Chris Paul, and the acquisition of “guys who’ve been there” in Stephen Jackson, this too is a young bunch who could use a ball handler and veteran presence.
4. Memphis Grizzlies (current backup point guard:???)
Recently trading for Boston wing Courtney Lee, the Memphis Grizzlies lost Jerryd Bayless and no longer have any players listed at the 1 spot other than Mike Conley. By acquiring Courtney Lee’s still-owed 11 million in salary, it would appear that the Grizzlies are looking to contend in the playoffs, and unless the team wants to have rookie Nick Calathes playing the position, Andre Miller would fit the bill perfectly.
5. Detroit Pistons (current backup point guard: Peyton Siva/Rodney Stuckey/Will Bynum)
If you’ve noticed a trend on this list, it would be that all of these teams have question marks for who is going to spell the minutes of their starting point guard, all of whom have interest in making the playoffs; the Detroit Pistons are no exception. Rodney Stuckey has always been more of a scoring guard, as is the case with Will Bynum. Siva will likely be groomed as a point guard of the future and is still a project, so Andre Miller would be an ideal candidate to fill in and take over for Brandon Jennings down the stretch. He may even fix some of the team’s vocalized fourth quarter woes. But let’s be honest, the true reason Detroit’s on this list is because the nation would salivate at what he could do given weapons such as Josh Smith and Andre Drummond in the open court.