5 Teams That Should Inquire About Disgruntled Nuggets Point Guard Andre Miller
It's one thing to be spending the last days of your career with a middling team, but playing a career-low in minutes for that team brings about a whole different set of problems.
Miller has long wanted more playing time in Denver, and he's never been bashful about voicing his complaints.
He took that to a whole new level after receiving a healthy scratch from rookie head coach Brian Shaw in a bad loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. He confronted Shaw on the sidelines for breaking up his played game streak.
As Shaw explained to Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post, that's not exactly where you want grievances being aired.
"There's a time and place for everything," Shaw said. "In the middle of the arena in front of everyone ... I just tried to calm it down."
Asked if Miller understood the reasons for his one-game seat on the bench, Shaw said, "You'll have to ask him."
As a result of this incident, the Nuggets suspended Miller for two games for conduct detrimental to the team.
This has all the makings of a trade waiting to happen. The young Nuggets don't really need Miller, particularly if he's going to undermine Shaw's authority. With the playoffs looking unlikely, moving the 37-year-old point guard for something of value (or addition by subtraction) makes plenty of sense.
Here's a look at five potential playoff teams that should inquire about Miller.
*Last year guaranteed for $2 million.
Why Dallas Does It: The Mavericks could really use a solid backup point guard and another offensive option coming off the bench, and Miller can satisfy both needs. With his sneaky low-post game, Miller can give the Mavericks another option when Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis are sitting.
Although he can't move defensively anymore, Rick Carlisle's defensive schemes are great for hiding slower perimeter defenders and utilizing smart veterans.
If the Mavericks want to make a playoff push at a very small cost, Miller would be a nice addition. Long-term, Miller could retire this offseason or the Mavs could get part of his salary off the books by paying him his partial guarantee of $2 million.
Why Denver Does It: Outside shooting is always a need in Denver, and Ellington is a specialist who could pitch in on the wing. Devin Harris has yet to play this season because of toe surgery, but the Nuggets have Nate Robinson as a capable backup point guard to hold down that spot.
This would be a bit of a salary dump, but getting Miller out of the locker room should be a priority at this point. Adding a capable rotation player on a contract that's nearly equal to what it would take to pay Miller just to go away next year should be viewed as a victory, even if Miller is the better player.
Golden State Warriors
The Trade: Denver Nuggets receive PF Marreese Speights (3 years, $10.9 million) and PG Toney Douglas (1 year, $1.6 million). Golden State Warriors receive PG Andre Miller (2 years, $9.6 million) and PF Anthony Randolph (2 years, $3.6 million).
Why Golden State Does It: Speights has been a bust in Golden State thus far, as he's shooting under 40 percent from the field and not shying away from taking any jumper he can. Getting out of his two-year deal (team option on last season) would probably intrigue the Warriors, even though he's not being paid much.
More importantly, the Warriors could use a legitimate backup point guard behind Stephen Curry, particularly since Douglas has been pretty banged up this season. After last year's playoff performances, Golden State is well aware of what Miller can do, and offensively he'd be a nice contrast to what the Splash Brothers bring.
With perimeter defenders like Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green, the Warriors could hide Miller defensively and let him run his old man game on the other side of the floor.
Bringing Randolph back with much lower expectations could work out as well. He's a useful change-of-pace big and a good shot-blocker.
Why Denver Does It: Speights may be a little redundant with Darrell Arthur, but adding another floor-spacing big with good size may be worth the investment.
Speights is a much better player than what he's shown this year, particularly defensively. You'd expect his performance to return to the mean a bit, and that's the gamble Denver would take here.
When he's healthy, Douglas is a capable contributor as well as a sort of three-and-D point guard. Really though, this deal would be about getting rid of Miller and adding another big who can actually play outside of the paint to better complement Kenneth Faried, JaVale McGee (once he's healthy) and Timofey Mozgov.
Why Washington Does It: The Wizards desperately need a better backup point guard. Eric Maynor has been a complete bust this season. Miller would have his hands full trying to make Washington's second unit click, but he's a clear-cut upgrade over Maynor. If anyone can make Jan Vesely look competent, it's Miller.
Washington's offense crumbles completely when John Wall is off the floor. Finding a cheap option to remedy that without giving up important assets will be tough, but Miller should fit the bill.
Why Denver Does It: Shaw and Denver's front office might desire more versatile big men, and Seraphin is a big body with a nice touch away from the hoop.
Although adding another former Wizards big man may not be ideal, there's always the hope that there's some Jordan Crawford magic waiting to happen once a guy finds a new role and home.
Chris Singleton is a capable defender, which is something Denver lacks almost entirely.
Gambling on Seraphin's talent and retaining him this offseason would be the play here, but if not, at least the Nuggets would successfully shed salary for next year while getting rid of a malcontent now.
The Trade: Denver Nuggets receive PF Patrick Patterson (1 year, $3.1 million) and Dwight Buycks (2 years, $1.5 million*). Toronto Raptors receive PG Andre Miller (2 years, $9.6 million) and SF Quincy Miller (2 years, $1.7 million*).
*Last year non-guaranteed.
Why Toronto Does It: Toronto has looked like a playoff team without Rudy Gay, so perhaps general manager Masai Ujiri would call up his former team and see if he could pluck two Millers away. While the Raptors are set at point guard with Kyle Lowry and Greivis Vasquez, Miller has shown the ability to play in the same lineup as other point guards, as Ujiri knows well.
Really though, the best part of this deal for Toronto may be nabbing Quincy Miller, a long wing with a lot of natural scoring ability. Ujiri drafted him, so there's a good chance he's high on him.
Would that be enough to take on a little salary next year with Miller, though? It depends on how serious Toronto's playoff aspirations are this year.
Why Denver Does It: Patterson is a perfect fit in Denver. He runs the floor well and he has range out to the three-point line. Without the aid of cap room next year, acquiring restricted free agents to match on makes a lot of sense for Denver.
Buycks is also an intriguing backup point guard prospect.
This would be a good haul, particularly if Denver's evaluation of Quincy Miller is as low as the amount of minutes Shaw's giving him.
One thing about this deal that may make it unlikely, however, is that Patterson can't be dealt in a package until February 9. Will the Nuggets be able to survive with Andre Miller's unhappiness until then?
The Trade: Detroit Pistons receive PG Andre Miller (2 years, $9.6 million) and PF Darrell Arthur (2 years, $6.6 million*). Denver Nuggets receive PF Jonas Jerebko (2 years, $9 million*) and PG Chauncey Billups (2 years, $5 million**)
*Player option on final year.
**Team option on final year.
Why Detroit Does It: When you have high-flying big men like Josh Smith and Andre Drummond, you want to find someone who can get them the ball. Andre Miller is as good as anyone at doing that, and honestly, he might be the best lob thrower we've ever seen.
Even though Detroit is starved for space, Miller could boost the second unit's offense and create lots of easy buckets with his vision.
Acquiring Arthur would also be a solid move, as he can space the floor and knock down mid-range jumpers consistently. This would definitely bolster Detroit's rotation for a playoff push.
Why Denver Does It: Billups doesn't bring much as a player these days, but it would be fitting for him to end his career back home in Denver. If nothing else, Billups would almost certainly be a better influence in the locker room, and it would make an awful lot of fans happy in an otherwise unexciting season. Holding the team option on Billups is also much more favorable than Miller's partially guaranteed deal next year.
Swapping Jerebko for Arthur is a slight talent downgrade, but Jerebko does have longer range and is a better hustle guy than Arthur.
This would be more of a sentimental trade, but swapping two of the league's veteran point guards and putting them in more favorable situations could benefit everyone involved.