The painfully drawn out saga of Andre Miller’s split from the Denver Nuggets will (hopefully) finally come to a close by this Thursday, February 20 at 3pm ET. Following a heated argument with Coach Brian Shaw well over a month ago during a home loss to the lowly Philadelphia 76ers, Miller was suspended for two days. Then his suspension was rescinded, while Miller was simultaneously told he was no longer welcome at team activities. In the last few days, there have been a number of conflicting reports concerning Andre Miller’s status, with headlines ranging from “Denver Nuggets Considering Playing Andre Miller Again” to “Andre Miller refusing to rejoin Nuggets.”
This is a mess.
As this journey is nearing its ending, it is becoming blatantly obvious to anyone paying attention to the Denver Nuggets this season that there are no winners in the Andre Miller situation. As things stand right now, there are only losers and the dwindling possibility that GM Tim Connelly is able to pull off a deal that any Nuggets fan could reasonably consider a “win” for the Denver Nuggets.
While Andre Miller has drawn the ire of many Denver Nuggets fans for his stubborn refusal to play defense and his tendency to play “hero-ball,” most dedicated Nuggets fans can see the impact Miller has had on Denver during his two separated stints as a Nugget. As the 9th-ranked player on the all-time career assists list with 8,056 assists, Miller has given Nuggets fans plenty of alley-oops and playmaking to enjoy at Mile High. Shaky (flat-out lazy at times) defense on Steph Curry aside, it was Andre Miller who won the Nuggets first playoff game at home last year with a game-winning layup past Draymond Green.
If we can set aside Miller’s unprofessional—though understandable—tirade against Brian Shaw this season, it’s not difficult to realize that the Nuggets are doing a significant disservice to Miller at this point in his career by taking almost two months to trade him. It was, after all, Miller’s first Did Not Participate-Coach’s Decision in his career at a time when, arguably, his performance was the same as it was last year when he was averaging 26.2 minutes per game under George Karl. When the Nuggets’ brass first started this process of trading Miller, they gave the impression that they would be looking for a contender to which they could trade him; an ideal situation for both parties.
Now, after months of dealing with the stress that comes with an incomplete roster waiting for its next piece, the benefits that could come with trading him to a contender are gone for both Miller and the Nuggets. With his staunch refusal to return and the league’s recognition that the Nuggets have to trade him, his trade value has never been so low, which means he will likely go to a borderline-playoff team for cash or an expiring contract. Not exactly the savior the Nuggets are looking for at this point. In fact, it still seems like no one has any clue what will happen with Miller next with less than 48 hours to go to the trade deadline, although some have reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves have risen to the top of potential suitors with a deal involving J.J. Barea in some way. Regardless, a deal involving Barea has little to no chance of being the key to saving the Nuggets season.
To be honest, I wouldn’t come back to the Nuggets either if I was Andre Miller. With a precious few months left (I can’t imagine he plays past the end of the 2014-2015 season) as a professional basketball player, the Nuggets have essentially stolen two months from him while also destroying his best chances to get picked up by a contender. Not exactly a great thing to do to one of the more respected veterans in the league; a veteran whose old-school play style earned him the savvy nickname, “Professor Miller,” from Grantland’s Zach Lowe.
All the while, the Nuggets have been losing point guards faster than Christin Cooper can make an Olympian cry. With only a short amount of time to save their season and fight back into the playoff race, the Nuggets need to address this problem immediately. Even with Ty Lawson healthy, the Nuggets simply need to go out and find help in the backcourt as Lawson cannot continue to average 40+ minutes per game this season without risking serious injury. Management, however, has made it clear that they want to take their time with this.
Things are bleak in Denver. While many fans have placed their hope in a trade, it seems more and more evident that the Nuggets’ management is either dealing with an impossibly difficult trade market or they are simply too incompetent to swindle the sort of deal we had grown accustomed to as Nuggets fans under former GM Masai Ujiri. Let’s hope it’s the former.
Yet, perhaps this is all too premature. We’ll find out in less than 48 hours.
So, my fingers are crossed for something exciting, as the Nuggets desperately need something to kick them back into gear. The season depends on it.