On July 5, ESPN.com’s John Hollinger reported Andre Miller’s new contract with the Nuggets would run roughly $5 million per year, with the third and final year being partially guaranteed. Now Matt Steinmetz, a CSNBayArea.com contributor and Bay Area radio personality, is corroborating Hollinger’s initial announcement with an exact number. Steinmetz is reporting Miller’s contract will run $14.6 million over three years. Whether the final year is partially guaranteed has yet to be officially confirmed. It had previously been suspected that Miller would sign a deal close to $9 million over a three-year span.
There are two sides of the story when it comes to this signing.
On one hand, Andre Miller is still one of the best backup point guards in the league (perhaps the best?). He led the Nuggets in assists last season while serving as a veteran presence to a young, up-and-coming squad. His halftime speech during Game 5 of the first round of the 2011 Playoffs reportedly breathed new life into his teammates, who eventually would push the Lakers to seven games in that series. Additionally, his connection with JaVale McGee by the end of the year was inciting.
One the other hand, Miller is 36. While he’s been supernaturally durable throughout his career, Father Time is still undefeated and has a meeting scheduled with Miller in the very near future. Fifteen million is a lot of money to dish out to a backup point guard, especially one in the twilight of his career with a protege in his mid-20s who just came off a breakout season. More money for Miller likely means more time for Miller and as a result, less time for the blossoming Ty Lawson. Finally, while some see gaudy assist numbers and an aggressive scoring mentality, others see a neglect for defense and selfishness. It is important to note that on numerous occasions last season we had to downgrade Miller significantly in our Rapid Reaction recaps (far more than anyone else) as he made no attempt to play defense for large stretches of the game.
The value of Miller’s contract will likely hinge on one key factor: the third year. As imperishable as Miller appears now, it’s difficult to imagine him playing at a high level three years down the road. At least having the option of jettisoning him will be extremely beneficial.
For now, it appears coach George Karl got his wish. Masai Ujiri is constructing the team around his strengths and weaknesses like the Nuggets previous regime never could (in fact, they did quite the opposite). Unfortunately these types of deals come with a price — both figuratively and literally – as the multitude of contracts Ujiri has dealt out over the last year and a half are beginning to add up. This signing nudges the Nuggets up close to the cap with JaVale McGee also reportedly on the brink of a new deal, Ty Lawson still in line for an extension and Quincy Miller yet to be signed.
Something has to give.