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Report: Wizards interested in Nuggets’ Andre Miller, but a trade is difficult

Feb 11, 2014, 12:36 PM EDT

San Antonio Spurs v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

It’s always about the money. As we near the trade deadline remember that: It is always about the money.

The Washington Wizards could argue they are the third best team in the East. It’s a dubious honor this season and the title seems to change hands weekly between the Wizards, Raptors and Nets, but all three of those teams have legitimate dreams of making the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs (and the Hawks could surprise us all). When healthy, with the John Wall/Bradley Beal backcourt and Nene up front, the Wizards pose some legitimate challenges to other teams.

But they could use depth at the point guard spot, as the seemingly smart pickup of Eric Maynor has not worked out (he’s shooting 29.2 percent on the season, has a PER of 6.1 and is playing less than 10 minutes a game).

The Denver Nuggets have the exiled Andre Miller as an option… so yes, there is something to that, reports Zach Lowe at Grantland. But again, the money is in the way.

The Wizards, meanwhile, may have to settle for a smaller deal — if they can manage any at all. They’d surely love to upgrade the backup point guard slot after the Eric Maynor flop, and given the front-office connections between Denver and Washington,4 a deal involving the exiled Professor Andre Miller, PhD, would seem to make sense. But the Wizards are just $1 million under the tax line, meaning they’d have to send out significant salary to offer Miller tenure.

The Wizards are not a team seen around the league as a big spender (to put it kindly) and they are not likely to venture into the tax territory, certainly not this season. As Mike Prada of SBN reminds us, in addition to the tax threat the Wizards are paying Andray Blatche even though they amnestied him (players still get paid their salary, it just comes off the official books). That’s extra money out the door for a franchise not known for spending. Which means Washington would want to make a deal where it sends out more money than it takes in, keeps its picks and upgrades its backup point guard spot. Good luck with that.

We’re going to see these kinds of issues a lot now. The value of the expiring contract has gone way down in the NBA (in part because contracts are shorter under the new CBA). Also, teams are not looking to move draft picks this year or next because of the quality of players coming in.

There will still be deadline deals, it’s hard to imagine Brandon Bass still being in Boston or Arron Afflalo still being in Orlando come Feb. 21. But the blockbusters may be missing and the volume of moves may be down. It may be this summer before we see a ton of deals.

  1. spursareold - Feb 11, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    Miller to DC
    Ariza to San Antonio
    Bonner/Decolo to Denver

    Denver gets rid of their multi year contract/attitude problem (Miller) for two ending contracts.

    DC sends out more salary than they take back by about 2.7M, and gets Miller. They can start Webster at SF, and finally find some time for Porter.

    San Antonio gets their backup SF in Ariza, who would likely start for a couple of weeks until Kawhi comes back.

    • tjr324 - Feb 11, 2014 at 1:42 PM

      so the spurs get ariza for two players at the end of their bench? keep dreaming spurs fan. Wizards arent giving up ariza just to get a backup point guard

      • spursareold - Feb 11, 2014 at 4:22 PM

        Wiz also shed 2.7M in salary, taking them below the tax. It’s not always strictly about the talent. They get the player they want (according to this article), and tax relief, at only the cost of a player that likely walks this summer anyway. That’s two things they want that they get. SA should actually ask for some cash or a second rounder for taking on that 2.3M in salary, but I didn’t want to clutter it with secondary considerations. Ariza is likely just a rental, and he gets to show his stuff on the playoff stage into June. Denver sheds a player they want gone, and only has to take on about 400K in extra salary for this year, while dumping Miller’s next years cost.

      • nichobert - Feb 12, 2014 at 11:52 AM

        The Wizards are already below the tax though.

        They aren’t re-signing Jan Vesely or Chris Singleton. They could almost certainly get an average backup pg with one of those expiring deals. Like you said, it isn’t about the talent. You can flip Vesely and Maynor (owed 2.1 mil next year I think) for a package to a team who’d shed long term salary next year, like – I dunno, Jameer Nelson and Kyle o’quinn. That would save the Magic 5 million next season I believe, it would give the Wizards a backup point and center and not cost them (a what, top 6 defense?) their best defender in Ariza.

        They aren’t trading Ariza without getting someone like Taj Gibson or Thaddeus young in return. Someone they’d be willing to sign in free agency at the price point of the remaining years on their deal. Now, such a deal would involve Porter as well probably in order to even be discussed, and I’m not sure that not any of the wizards, bulls or Sixers would do it. But they aren’t going to lose Ariza for the right to pay a 10mpg backup 4 mil next year

  2. dinofrank60 - Feb 11, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    So, the Wizards need depth at the point guard position and have interest in Andre Miller.
    The Nuggets have phased out, no, make that kicked out Andre Miller from their rotations and probably would like to get rid of him.
    You have a buyer and a seller in the market, but because of artificial constraints they will have extreme difficulties in making this deal. A deal that will benefit both teams.
    Isn’t that inefficient? If it is, why isn’t anyone…

    • nichobert - Feb 12, 2014 at 11:53 AM

      They really wouldn’t have extreme difficulties. Depending on what else gets offered for Miller. If they’re left without a deal and run out of time they can take Vesely’s expiring which I believe matches up pretty well salary wise.

  3. azarkhan - Feb 11, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    “But the Wizards are just $1 million under the tax line”

    How does a .500 team that is 14.5 games behind the Pacers, a team that routinely sucks, end up only “$1 million under the tax line”. Other then bad attitudes and selfish play, what is Wizards management getting for all those millions of dollars?

    • nichobert - Feb 12, 2014 at 11:59 AM

      The wizards have bad attitudes and selfish play? Sorry, I could have sworn they were a really good defense who just has issues with secondary ball handling. Crippling issues.

      Their top 6 guys feature 2-3 of the top 10 5 man units in the league as far as point differential goes, but they’re routinely undone by their backup PGs and bigs. All of whom looked really promising 2 years ago before inexplicably regressing beyond comprehension.

      Out of all that money, about 22 million Of it is expiring contracts

      Wizards are an insanely poorly coached team, it’s a shame that we are wasting years of the best pure PG under 25s prime with such an up creative coach

      • azarkhan - Feb 12, 2014 at 12:21 PM

        Google Nene’s comments about his Wizard teammates.

  4. eugenesaxe1 - Feb 11, 2014 at 4:17 PM

    Miller is unhappy playing back-up in Denver, so Ernie Grunfeld wants to bring him in to back up Wall?

    Now you see why WASH has sucked so hard for so long.

    • kinggw - Feb 11, 2014 at 4:26 PM

      No, he was unhappy with his minutes, not the backup role.

      • spursareold - Feb 11, 2014 at 5:44 PM

        He won’t get more minutes behind Wall.

      • eugenesaxe1 - Feb 11, 2014 at 8:06 PM

        Same thing, don’t you think? Back-ups generally don’t get much burn.

    • nichobert - Feb 12, 2014 at 12:03 PM

      Wait does Andre Millee think he’s a starter?

      Kemba Walker isn’t even a top 20 PG in the NBA.. The position may be a bit too deep for Andre Miller to start unless he’s on a team that perfectly works to his abilities with a starting SG and backup combo guard that are both super ball dominant scorers – and they’d also have to be solid defenders..

      Miller can create some offense every once in awhile, but he’s a piss poor defender and shooter.

      Jeff Van Gundy called Miller a top 25 player all time on a telecast once. It was probably the dumbest thing I have ever heard on TV, that is saying so much.

  5. wowwowbad - Feb 11, 2014 at 7:48 PM

    Nene, Seraphin for Miller, Gallinari

    • nichobert - Feb 12, 2014 at 12:23 PM

      If the Wiz trade Nene they don’t need a backup PG because they’ll lose 10 straight depending on Jan Vesely to play. 35 minutes a night.

      Now.. If their goal was to tank and keep their pick, let Ariza walk / do another trade and regroup for next year – something that would cost their GM his job so I doubt that’s an option.. It makes sense.

      Seraphin is an interesting case. He has taken the most hook shots in the NBA over the last 3 years and also has the best percentage by a wide margin as he’s well over 70%

      It’d be so nice for him to have a coach who acknowledged that and repeatedly ran post ups for him instead of pick and pops and pick and rolls. He really doesnt ever need to face the basket. But Wittman is an idiot and doesn’t use anyone to the best of their abilities besides Ariza.

      I think neither team would like it unless Washingtons owner decided to totally change directions for no reason

  6. spg3081 - Feb 11, 2014 at 11:08 PM

    Miller would see more minutes behind Wall. Beal is on a minutes restriction (granted, 34 minutes is plenty of time) and guard depth overall isn’t a strength for the Wizards (wait, remove “guard” and that statement is more accurate). Wall and Miller aren’t ideal 2s but if Ariza goes (not for Miller but I imagine he’ll move if they acquire Monroe, Gibson, or whomever) that leaves Webster starting at the 3 instead of filling in for the 2 and 3 spots.

    In all honesty I hope Ariza stays. He’s a wonderful fit and the kind of guy any contender needs. Granted, contenders also don’t overpay that kind of guy and the Wizards would have to in order to keep him. If they acquire a big I’d rather see them move Gortat – I don’t see them paying him & Ariza. Ernie may want to keep him this year to justify trading their 2014 1st but if he goes toward Monroe, awesome (then again, Detroit is trying to shed a big, not bring in another worthy of starters minutes…oh well).

    Of course, it’s time that Wizards fans (like myself) set realistic expectations. Ernie won’t make a smart move, much less two. They’ll trade Ariza, maybe even Porter. If they bring in a Monroe they end up letting him walk. They’ll flame out in the 1st round and head in to next year with Wall and Beal again, hoping Porter explodes and biding time until they can shed Nene’s bloated contract. In other words, more spinning of their wheels is in their future.

    (God, I hope I’m wrong this time…I also wish they’d fired Ernie & Wittman last offseason)

    • unxpexted1 - Feb 12, 2014 at 8:26 AM

      Yea i can’t believe Wittman is still around. Offensively they are a wreck in the half court and he seems to have no creativity on offense.

    • nichobert - Feb 12, 2014 at 12:08 PM

      Sorry, Javale gets 10 million. Not 19

      It’d be funny if Javale got 19 million a year to be a homeless mans kris Humphries though

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