Friday , Dec , 18 , 2009 Oly Sandor

Dre Disaster: Why Andre Miller isn’t a fit for Portland Trail Blazers

After striking out with several free agents over the summer, the Portland Trail Blazers inked free agent Andre Miller to a three-year, $21 million contract. The move raised eyebrows for two reasons. First, Miller expected to start, but Portland still had 2009 starter Steve Blake and blue-chip prospect Jerryd Bayless. Second, the signing seemed more about executive Kevin Pritchard using cap space he created then solving an on-court need for Coach Nate McMillan …


Dre Disaster: Why Andre Miller isn't a fit for Portland Trail BlazersAfter striking out with several free agents over the summer, the Portland Trail Blazers inked free agent Andre Miller to a three-year, $21 million contract.

The move raised eyebrows for two reasons. First, Miller expected to start, but Portland still had 2009 starter Steve Blake and blue-chip prospect Jerryd Bayless. Second, the signing seemed more about executive Kevin Pritchard using cap space he created then solving an on-court need for Coach Nate McMillan.

Clearly, threes a crowd.

A month into the season, Portland’s trio of table-setters have all expressed frustration with the situation. Not surprisingly, none are performing to expectation, either. And this combination of unhappiness and poor play at the one-spot is having a detrimental effect on the young Blazers, who – after going 4-6 in their last ten games – sit a disappointing eighth in the Western Conference.    

Why has the Miller signing failed?

Developing teams must have clarity. Young players are impressionable, so they need to know their role, as well as the role of others, especially at a key position like point guard. Anything else becomes an unwanted distraction.

Controversies are especially negative for young teams. And having to adjust to two very different players, Blake and Miller, and different line-ups is also a negative. For example, superstar Brandon Roy has shifted back-and-forth between the two-and three spots because the club was temporarily starting Blake and Miller.

Miller’s style just isn’t a fit. The veteran is at his best in a slow-down system where he can dominate the ball, direct traffic, and stay well within the three-point line.

Conversely, Portland likes to stretch the floor. And Roy, the franchise player, is at his best when he can dominate the ball, direct traffic, and play next to a point guard who keeps defenses honest with his three-point range.

Miller’s personality isn’t a fit, either. He’s quiet, somewhat aloof, and has admitted publicly he wouldn’t have come to ‘Rip City’ if he had known he was going to split minutes with Blake.

In contrast, these Blazers have mostly stuck together. Sure, there has been issues over playing time, but – since bonding at their infamous fight club practice in December of 2007 – the core has persevered and grown as a group.

There is good news. As of December 15th, NBA teams can trade players they signed as free agents in the summer, which means the club can see if there are takers for the year and a half still guaranteed on Miller’s deal.      

Now the bad news. With ‘The Great Free Agent Chase of 2010’ approaching and the current economic climate, few teams are willing to trade for a bad contract unless, of course, they get to give up one in return.

It seems Portland is stuck with Miller and Pritchard will wear his mistake. 

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