Back in October, I cautioned that Denver wasn’t guaranteed to top their 57-win season under head coach George Karl. The team fired their head coach who was, ironically, named Coach of the Year for his work in Denver. Unfortunately, a first-round exit in the postseason led to Karl’s dismissal, but it isn’t often you see a Coach of the Year tossed out on the streets at the end of that season.
The Nuggets were convinced they were better off without Karl and instead brought in the unproven Brian Shaw. Shaw may work out over time, but if Denver was hoping to take the next step forward, it almost assuredly won’t happen this year. The Nuggets currently sit at 14-17 and if the playoffs began today, they wouldn’t even make the cut. Again, Shaw may eventually work out but the coaching change, for now, looks like a foolish one based on what the team has done so far this year.
The losing record is certainly putting a strain on the team and point guard Andre Miller is the perfect example of that. Miller was suspended for two games for confronting Shaw during a game and emotions between the two boiled over. Miller is the elder statesman on a team comprised of many young players so his behavior in that regard has to be even more frustrating for Shaw since the franchise relies on him to provide a veteran presence and serve as an example. If the younger players see a player as old as Miller questioning the coach, common sense says that it won’t be long before they have their doubts about the direction of the team as well.
Miller is now 37 and while the Nuggets aren’t completely out of playoff contention, things certainly don’t look good for them. When you think about it, it would make all the sense in the world for the team to trade him.
Miller can’t really be counted upon as a starter and is clearly past his prime. He could, however, step up and provide some depth to a team making a playoff run and in need of a veteran presence in the backcourt off the bench. Miller is averaging a scant 5.9 points per game, but is shooting 46 percent from the field and with a 3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio, isn’t going to come into games off the bench and be reckless when the ball is in his hands. Bottom line is that he can still be an asset to a team that needs a guard.
Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Spears have pinpointed the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings as teams that would be interested in his services. Of those two teams, the Warriors would make more sense to me.
The Yahoo article notes that Miller could serve as a veteran mentor to its young guards, but why trade for Miller at this point if you’re Sacramento? The Kings are even further out of the playoffs than the Nuggets and if they’re really concerned about finding a veteran presence there’s no harm in waiting until the offseason when they can sign a free agent. Giving up an asset for Miller when the team isn’t going to the postseason doesn’t quite add up to me.
The Warriors, however, are in much better shape to make the playoffs. They made a deep run last season and are sixth in the Western Conference heading into the weekend. Golden State is filled with talent with starting guards with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, but are thin behind them. Reserves Toney Douglas, Nemanja Nedovic and Kent Bazemore combine for a meager 7.7 points and 2.1 assists per game. There’s little question that Miller can help out that unit.
If Golden State is serious about their pursuit of Miller, it all comes down to what they need to give up to obtain him. But on the downside of his career, the asking price shouldn’t be too high if Denver isn’t intent on keeping him. Miller would provide an upgrade to the Warriors’ backcourt at an affordable price.