On Monday night, in a thrilling contest that was punctuated by Randy Foye’s game-winning shot at the buzzer, the Denver Nuggets downed the Los Angeles Clippers by a 116-115 score at home. Foye, a combo guard, played over 40 minutes in that up-tempo game; and Nuggets starting point man Ty Lawson logged nearly 45 minutes in the up and down affair. That’s nearly 45 minutes in the thin Denver air, from a player in Lawson that works as one of the league’s most undersized guards.
The league’s shortest guard, Nuggets reserve Nate Robinson, is sadly out for the rest of the 2013-14 season with a left ACL tear, which leaves the Nuggets severely limited in the backcourt because of the continued absence of journeyman point man Andre Miller. Miller, you’ll recall, was asked to leave the Nuggets after lashing out at Denver coach (and former on-court competitor) Brian Shaw during a contest in early January.
Miller was suspended for two games following that outburst, which came in the midst of the first DNP-CD of the veteran’s 15-year career. He’s been away from the team due to “personal reasons,” at least according the box scores, in the weeks since. “Personal reasons” being that he doesn’t care for Shaw, Shaw’s offensive suggestions, or being asked to work as a reserve on a lottery-bound team that seemed like a Western Conference finals contender just 11 months ago.
With Robinson out and Lawson (who still finished with 27 points and four assists in Monday’s win) having to take on such an extended workload, would the Nuggies reach out to Dre Miller in order to ask for aid in their time of need?
Don’t count on it. Brian Shaw confirmed as much in talking with Chris Dempsey at the Denver Post:
“There won’t be any reaching out from our end,” Shaw said. “I think we’ve operated and done everything that we’re supposed to do. So, if there’s any reaching out that needs to be done I think the reaching out has to come from him to us. But at this point we’re still trying to evaluate the situation. The guys that are here are going to be our concern. That’s something I’ve kind of completely taken myself out of and let whatever happens be dealt with between him, his agent and the front office.”
Andre Miller may be 37, and on the tail end of his career, but he’s still quite good as a reserve, and it wasn’t that long ago that the dude was hitting game-winners in playoff games. It’s that short amount of time between contender and also-ran that is creating frustrations for the veteran, but this is also no way to handle things, and Miller has clashed with coaches before, and moped through games even in his prime.
He’s definitely not coming back to Denver, that much is certain, but seems nearly as certain is the idea that Miller will be moved by the time the trade deadline hits in over two weeks.
A stiff breeze could turn this year’s trade deadline into a monstrosity, with several teams and dozens of players heading various places as franchises chase their various fortunes be they win-now or win-eventually, and just as much influence could turn this into a snoozer of a trade deadline as teams decline to deal after not finding trades they wanted to work through. Honestly, there could be heaps of deals this month, or this could be an “only deadline deal is Anthony Johnson for two second picks”-sort of year.
(That year happened twice, actually, in 2000 and 2006. The NBA is weird.)
Miller seems certain to move, though, even with all sorts of NBA teams rubbing uneasily close to the luxury tax. His contract is only guaranteed for $2 million next year, and even at the full price ($4.6 million, should a team decide to pick up his option) he’d be close to worth it unless he falls off precipitously at age 38. There’s always a risk of that, which is why the $2 million waiving possibility mellows things out.
He could stay put, though. Possibly out of spite, by the Nuggets front office, even if it means the team sends Ty Lawson out for more 40-plus minute nights. Or possibly because no other team wants to take a chance on paying Miller that much, despite his slim contract, and despite all he still has to contribute.
Like we said, the NBA is weird. Stock up on fluids, Ty Lawson.
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