It’s not all sunshine and roses with Andre Miller

There’s a disturbing narrative surrounding the Andre Miller situation in the Denver Nuggets media.

Specifically the notion that there is no situation and never has been. If you were to peruse the major Denver Nuggets media outlets for a picture of Andre Miller’s last two seasons, it looks like nothing but smooth sailing and mountains of praise from his Denver coaches.

The 37-year old point guard deserves praise for his longevity and uniquely crafted skill set, just as Benjamin Hochman pointed out in his latest weekend piece for the Denver Post. But that picturesque portrayal of Miller’s time in Denver was enough to make anyone who’s more than a casual Nuggets fan do a serious double take — mainly because it just doesn’t match up with what they’ve seen and experienced these past two years.

Miller’s career in Denver has been a lot more than crafty veteran footwork and acute lob passing. He visibly sulked on the court last season while struggling to adjust to his new bench role. He has not been one of the Nuggets most consistent players since arriving in Denver, yet his minutes aren’t monitored and adjusted the way they are with the younger guys. No matter how things are going in the game, Miller often sees the same amount of minutes, leading some to suspect his overt special relationship with George Karl has resulted in favoritism.

What’s worse is the fact Miller has publicly complained about his role on a team that continues to profess their love for him. Last season, Andre told Chris Tomasson he doesn’t see himself as a backup but noted “this is a short season and I’ll deal with it.” Last month, Andre more or less repeated his sentiments to Paul Klee of the Colorado Springs Gazette, reaffirming his stance and quelling any notion that Miller has adjusted his attitude over the past year.

Those are two concrete interviews coming from trusted journalists in the Denver community (Tomasson is a grizzled veteran of the Nuggets beat). Remind me again why the Nuggets and all media they associate with refuse to acknowledge either of these incidents happened?

Instead, the Denver Nuggets media has kept on selling their pristine image of Andre Miller in Denver — the wily veteran who is a positive force in the locker room and on the floor despite being 37-years old and physically outclassed by everyone in the NBA.

Not only is that a fairy tale, it’s a woefully incomplete picture of the relationship. Miller’s latest comments followed a run of recent Nuggets wins in which Andre’s fourth quarter minutes saw a serious dip. With the return of Wilson Chandler and emergence of Corey Brewer, Andre Miller’s customary fourth quarter time was no longer handed to him no-questions-asked, and Miller wasn’t happy.

Since then, Miller has seen more fourth quarter action due to injuries. He’s made statements in every game, looking to show he can still get it done when the chips are down and the Nuggets need a fourth quarter bucket. Miller took those big shots for himself (including several threes) and the Nuggets came up short in three straight losses before finally winning again at home, where Miller returned to a sub-25 minute role off the bench.

Nuggets fans genuinely want to like Miller, but they are smart enough to understand his role on this team. They realize the Nuggets’ future is in the hands of young players who need guidance and leadership in the locker room. They realize Andre shooting a three at the end of a game with two better players on the court is unacceptable. They realize a defiant Andre Miller isn’t doing the Nuggets any favors unless he starts accepting reality and his rightful backup role.

In my opinion, Nuggets fans are right. They wouldn’t have to be constantly reminded to like Andre Miller if he wasn’t stirring up locker room drama and putting himself in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

We all hope this is the year Andre’s veteran savvy will pay dividends during the playoffs. But barring some miracle run deep into the playoffs, we also know Miller’s role is diminishing and he’s a short-term fix on a very young team.

The only way to describe Miller’s relationship with the Denver Nuggets and their fans is awkward. He doesn’t like his role on the budding young team and fans don’t like him back.

I’ve been in a problem relationship before. It wasn’t a bad one, but we probably spent months exchanging pleasantries and denying the fact neither one of us had any substantial feelings left for the other. That’s where both the Nuggets and Andre Miller are currently.

It’s time to stop buying the company line that there’s no problem, never has been a problem and Andre Miller is happily headed for great things with the Denver Nuggets. It’s a strained relationship that’s only getting weirder as both sides hope for a miracle playoff run to magically fix everything.

Miller should be gone by next season’s trade deadline, when the nonguaranteed portion of his third year becomes enticing for a team looking to add veteran help. Until then, this awkward dance goes on and Miller will continue to be one of the least-liked Nuggets unless he changes his attitude.

That’s all up to him.

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Charlie Yao

Contributor at Roundball Mining Company since 2010. Unhealthily obsessed with Nuggets basketball since 2002. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram at the links on the left.
  • AaronCAPS

    Just trade this fake SOB. Thinks hes still a great PG, the dude can hardly even play his backup role correctly. Trade him to Sacramento so he can play with some more selfish fakes.

  • googergieger

    Dallas and Jazz need point guards. Could do something there. Again wouldn’t mind doing Chandler and Miller for Marion and Beaubious(????). Marion is a better defender than Chandler and he handled the bench role for Dallas with class. Probably would be happy being on a young winning team, and he can back up both Faried and Gallo better than Chandler as well. Beabois(????) is a young point guard on an expiring contract who can hit the three ball and isn’t a bad on ball defender.

    • CSmith

      love it

    • Nugznazty

      im not really familiar with how good marion is defensively any more….hasn’t he slid back significantly? beaubois isn’t very good…this looks like a step back especially with marion making so much money…
      I’d like to target jj barea as a backup PG. he keeps pace with lawson just about

      • Nuggets Australia

        No way, we don’t want JJ Barea!

    • Josh

      I would love to see the Matrix in Denver. I think he would fit in perfectly.

    • Jason

      Marion is a better defender than Wilson Chandler?? Really? That is a false statement. Marion is 35 years and really only had good seasons with Steve Nash, like everyone does. Honestly I was blown away with how good Chandler’s defense was, he is a very underrated defender.
      I don’t disagree with all the bashing on Andre Miller and do think we should look to move him next year when his contract is expiring.

      I do remember Andre Miller dominating a 4th quarter against the Lakers in LA in the playoffs last year and do think he could be big for us in the playoffs….he is very smart basketball player. I wish he was more accepting of his back up role.

  • Ackdog

    Great article. Rightly points out that this team needs that veteran leadership right now. Next year however will be a different story as this team has had enough time to grow.

  • Mark B

    Its as if this article was written just for me! Great stuff Charlie! Now I am going to repost this wherever i can in the hopes that somebody close to Nuggets management reads it and helps get rid of this cancer that is Andre Miller.

    • magster

      He speaks for me too. There is a difference between veteran leadership and veteran insubordination.

  • Taylor P

    Call me crazy but if I was running the team I would want every single player to think they deserved to start/close out the game. Confidence is so crucial in this game. Andre may not be the best player on the team but he’s certainly not a cancer. I haven’t heard any nuggets or coaches complain about playing with him or address those recent comments. Why? Because it’s not a big deal. Andre will probably finish his career in denver as he should.

    • DH

      I get your point, but would you want your players airing their discontent to the media? And right after signing a long-term contract? And during the longest winning streak in a decade? And would you want them pouting during games (as I strongly believe Miller did many times last year)? And trying to play “hero ball” to close out games, just to prove a point (which, again, I believe he does)? It might not be a big deal now, but it could become one. I think that’s why the team let Felton go. But Miller seems to be immune to that for some reason. Just my opinion.

  • NuggDr

    Old news. Nuggets need to focus on trades today for Josh Smith.

  • http://yahoo.com prospector

    Thanks for the article, a voice of truth in a sea of lies.

  • Matt

    Andre Miller needs to go, I have been saying this for the past 2 years now. He thinks that he is a clutch player in late close games, but I can not even count the number of times where he had the ball on the last or second to last possession and he either took an awful shot (like a 3 pointer, or a contested shot where Gallo, Corey, or Ty were wide open with plenty of time on the clock, or he just downright turns the ball over).

    For me it seems that when we are in a close game, he tries to prove that he should be the starter by trying to make something happen to win a game, just look at the last possession in the 3OT @Boston game. I think getting rid of Andre Miller would allow for the Nuggets to have a lot more flexibility in late game situations, and who knows maybe we would have won a couple of those games.

  • Eric

    Amen! Also he’s stunted Lawson’s growth in a lot of ways

  • BriSisk

    I always liked Miller, but if he keeps shooting 3’s in crunchtime, like he did against the C’sm, the Nuggets need to show him the door.

  • gflightyears358

    I’m sure the young players can manage to close games without Miller. They’ve shown it already, so it’s time to give them the reign.

  • theo

    Oh Jeez, please….

    Like this is really some huge issue with the Nuggets. It isn’t, except in the minds of some fans who have too much time on their hands or folks here who need something to write about in a three day lag between games.

    Amen to Taylor above. Every player should be dissatisfied if they aren’t starting. I actually wonder about Javale because he seems so comfortable with coming off the bench and very limited minutes. I’d love to see some more fire there.

    YMCA Dre is what he’s always been. Excellent in some areas and revered around the league for the hoops IQ and savvy (no, that’s not made up by media, it’s a fact). And very limited in other areas. He’s getting older and less effective like all older players do. He made some poor decisions on the last road trip. Big whoop.

    But he’s not a cancer, and his presence or absence isn’t going to make the Nugs contenders. Much ado about very little, I think.

    • James

      Amen, Theo, and to some others above who see this as the non-story I do. This is perfect example of our blog world. Read the headline, and even the article, you’d think Miller was a subversive paid by the Grizzlies, trying to bring down the Nuggets, or at best, a huge team cancer.

      Near as I can tell, he gets along with everyone, is unselfish, wants to and is trying vey hard to win, and generally plays pretty well. Does he want to start? Sure, who doesn’t. Does he make poor comments from time to time? Sure, who cares? Does Karl like him more than he should? Probably, but it’s not as out of whack as we’re led to believe by the crazy bloggers. This is just stirring up nothing.

      I think if and when he goes, some of you who want him gone might really eat some crow, unless we bring in a really good backup. Julyan Stone? Please.

  • danny

    The writers on this blog seem to like to find bones to pick with specific players, the coach, etc. in a way that comes across as attention seeking, if not simple journalistic sloppiness. He wants more minutes. He thinks we need a superstar to reach the championship. The latter is hardly a unique sentiment (writers on this blog have expressed it several times) and as for the former: would you want a player on your team that didn’t think he deserved more minutes? You want someone who thinks they should be limited, that they aren’t good enough to start? You come pretty close to calling Miller a locker room cancer, but you site no sources other than a handful of comments that Miller has made in separate interviews. I believe you are pandering to Miller’s unpopularity with the fans, rather than crafting well thought and argued writing.

    • Charlie

      Hey Danny, appreciate the feedback and it wasn’t my intention to call Andre Miller a locker room cancer. I don’t think that at all. What I did say was that he’s not happy, and I cited both his sporadic play and his words as evidence. I actually think the Nuggets have a good locker room (not a great one, obviously missing some leadership — but it’s good). There’s no one that comes close to being a cancer in my book.

      It is important to talk about a situation that needs fixing while everyone else just denies that an unresolved issue exists. Miller has not been bad off the bench, but you can’t say the Nuggets are getting the most out of him if he’s not completely sold on his role with the team.

      There is nothing wrong with saying you want more minutes or that the Nuggets need a superstar — it’s just incredibly odd and in bad taste for Miller to bring it up out of nowhere during a win streak. It’s a weird situation and it is awkward is all I’m saying.

  • Onite

    Some good points but I still love Andre Miller. He is in a little slump right now but he will come up big in the playoffs. He will keep the team calm in the big games.

  • http://yahoo tmat

    AaronCAPS you know not of what you speak. Guarantee you nugs would have 10 more losses this year without Miller

  • Fed up Nug

    Great article Charlie, pay no attention to the apologist sheep criticizing you. These people are too stupid to see what’s right in front of them. Anre Miller has been terrible for this team. He’s easily one of the worst defenders in the league, whatever good he brings on offense is completely negated by his disgraceful defensive effort. Even worse he disparages his teammates to the media while whining about his minutes, even though he is already getting more than he deserves. Taking precious time away from our young guys and stunting the growth of Ty. Combine that with he and Karl’s sordid love affair and its pretty easy to see why so many of us want him off this team.

    • theo

      Nice black and white take. You really advanced the conversation here among intelligent fans. I look forward to your next contribution.

      • Fed up Nug

        Theo, you are NOT an “intelligent fan.” You are a troll, an extremely smug and profoundly ignorant one. Lets hear some more about al Harrington shooting well over 40% from three last season. Lets hear some more about how coaching has nothing I do with how a team plays. Lets hear some more off topic conversations with yourself about “contending” and “superstars.” My black and white take is far better than the clueless drivel you keep posting on here. Although watching goog destroy you everyday has become quite entertaining.