Andre Miller Makes All Kinds of Sense as Golden State Warriors Trade Target

D.J. Foster@@fosterdjContributor IJanuary 3, 2014

Dec 7, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Andre Miller (24) during the second quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. The Nuggets defeated the Sixers 103-92. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

When the Golden State Warriors lost backup point guard and sixth man Jarrett Jack to the Cleveland Cavaliers in free agency this offseason, they lost a small part of their identity.

Although Jack's shot selection and decision-making abilities weren't exactly ideal, he never shied away from the big moments, and he allowed the Warriors to play a version of small ball that lit opposing defenses on fire.

Jack was largely viewed as a luxury to have behind Stephen Curry, but now the spot he once occupied looks like one of the few holes on Golden State's current roster.

Current backup point guard Toney Douglas has been banged up this year, but he's also been an ineffective offensive player. Although Douglas is a great on-ball defender and a better three-point shooter than he's shown so far, asking him to initiate the offense or create for others is above his pay grade.

It's not all about Douglas, though. Stephen Curry's ankles are always a concern, so getting a solid backup point guard who can play with or without him is crucial. The Warriors have been doing extremely well lately, but they're always one ankle turn away from a disaster.

For that reason, having a reliable insurance policy at backup point guard means more to Golden State than it does for most other teams, even if Andre Iguodala can pitch in and absolve some of the duties.

Now may seem like an odd time to make an acquisition, as Golden State is on a hot streak and finally healthy once again. This is a fairly complete roster that doesn't need a whole lot, but that doesn't mean the Warriors should ignore discounted players on the market who could conceivably play big roles now and in the playoffs.

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 06: Andre Miller #24 of the Denver Nuggets drives to the basket for a layup in front of Vitor Faverani #38 of the Boston Celtics in the second half during the game at TD Garden on December 6, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO US
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images


Andre Miller's Situation

No trade price was lowered more in the last few weeks than Denver Nuggets point guard Andre Miller's. After blowing up on the sidelines and voicing his frustrations with Brian Shaw for scratching him from the lineup, the Nuggets suspended Miller two games for conduct detrimental to the team.

It seems like only a matter of time before the Nuggets find a taker for the 37-year-old point guard, even if they'd prefer to smooth things over, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

Denver had resisted trade overtures before Wednesday's encounter between Miller and Shaw on the Nuggets bench, and teams reaching out to the Nuggets on Thursday insist that Nuggets GM Tim Connelly still seems committed to working through the issues with Miller and getting him back on the floor for Denver.

As Wojnarowski goes on to detail, the Warriors have been shopping for a backup point guard and are intrigued with the possibility of acquiring Miller.

From Denver's point of view, moving Miller makes plenty of sense. The Nuggets are a young team with plenty of other options in the backcourt, and in the grand scheme of things, maintaining Shaw's authority is more important than the contributions Miller provides on the floor. This isn't the first (and it likely won't be the last) time Miller barks about his playing time, either.

That's not to say that Miller can't be a valuable contributor elsewhere. Although his style of play is rarely seen anymore, he's an effective post scorer and very good distributor in transition. So long as a team can cover up his flaws, particularly defensively, he should have a positive impact while he's on the floor.

ORLANDO, FL - DECEMBER 31: Members of the Golden State Warriors huddle before a game against the Orlando Magic on December 31, 2013 at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using
Fernando Medina/Getty Images


How He Fits

There might not be a team in the league who can better compensate for his failings and accentuate his talents than Golden State can. In Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green and Toney Douglas, the Warriors have four excellent perimeter defenders who can easily take the toughest assignments, leaving Miller with a much easier cover. Denver can't provide that anymore.

Offensively, Golden State's offense is a dream for Miller to play in. The Warriors are third in the league in most three-pointers attempted, and that's perfect for providing Miller with the space he needs to operate from 15 feet and in. Golden State's second unit can legitimately run their offense through Miller, and he can be a secondary option with the starters, much like Jack was previously, albeit in a different way.

Don't forget about all of Golden State's athletes, either. Iguodala is fully aware of the benefits from their time together in Denver, and Miller can really unlock some of the potential of Harrison Barnes with his ability to throw lobs and find the open man on the break. 

It also doesn't hurt that Miller has been one of the game's most durable players, if not the most durable. Miller played 239 consecutive games before receiving the first DNP-CD of his career from Shaw.

Back in 2010, Miller played a then league-leading 632 straight games before a suspension ended that run. Miller's durability and toughness should be plenty attractive to a Warriors team that has dealt with injuries all year. You can't have your insurance policy for Curry in a suit, and Miller almost never is.


Enough To Give?

One thing working in Golden State's favor in a potential trade is that Miller's contract runs through next year and is partially guaranteed $2 million out of the $4.6 million total owed. Denver is a team starved for cap space, and it may not be long before they start exploring ways to cut salary a bit. Finding a taker for Miller might be a good starting point.

Unfortunately, Golden State is short on assets to offer. Jermaine O'Neal is on a cheap expiring deal, but he's recovering from wrist surgery and wouldn't fit with the youth movement. Marreese Speights is an interesting frontcourt piece, but perhaps his three-year deal would be a turnoff. Toney Douglas doesn't make nearly enough ($1.6 million) to be dealt straight up, and neither do some of the other bench options for Golden State.

Would future second-round picks and Speights be enough for Denver to part with Miller? It might have to be. Golden State can't deal a future first-round pick until 2019, and that would likely be out of the question anyhow.

Despite Nuggets GM Tim Connelly's apparent fondness for Miller, it would be hard to reject almost any future asset received for him right now. The Nuggets are a mediocre team with minimal playoff hopes, and Miller isn't getting any younger or quieter. Any deal will be awfully hard for Denver to win, especially in light of this suspension.

Miller will have other suitors, but he's been around long enough to publicly balk at being traded to a non-contender like the Sacramento Kings, who have also been rumored to have interest in him. He can try and force his way to Golden State, if he sees that as his best landing spot.

You'd like to think Warriors head coach Mark Jackson would have an affinity for Miller that Shaw probably doesn't. Jackson was one of the great post-up point guards in league history (like Miller) and he was witness to Miller's outburst in last year's playoffs.

So long as the Warriors can find a way to make the assets match up, acquiring Miller should be an easy decision. He's a perfect fit in Golden State. 


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