NBA Roundtable

Portland Make Miller An Offer + Sign Him

In Free Agency on July 24, 2009 at 6:12 pm

ESPN reports

The Portland Trail Blazers have offered point guard Andre Miller a three-year contract after failing in their efforts to acquire New York Knicks restricted free agent David Lee, sources close to the process said Friday.

Miller’s contract would be worth $21 million, with $14 million guaranteed and $7 million included as a third-year team option, a source said.

Bad Fit

I think Andre Miller is a very poor fit in Portland …

Shooting

  • Miller can’t shoot the ball — he only makes 40% of his jump shots, and is a career 21% shooter from downtown — that makes him a very poor shooter for a point guard.
  • Portland had one of the most efficient offenses in the NBA because nearly all of their perimeter players could stroke the ball from downtown. That allowed them to space out the court and punish opposing teams whenever they doubled Brandon Roy or LaMarcus Aldridge.

Time On Ball

Andre Miller has been allowed to monopolize the ball in Philadelphia for the past two seasons because the Sixers lacked scoring threats beyond himself and Andre Iguodala. Two seasons ago, Willie Green was their third leading scorer. Last season it was Thaddeus Young, who’s still uncomfortable as a go-to scorer, largely due to the injury of Elton Brand.

Why is this important?

Because it’s inflated Andre Miller’s scoring stats. Once he goes to a team with more scoring threats his own numbers will fall. Therefore, the Blazers are far more likely to see the 13ppg scoring threat we saw in Denver and LA rather than the 16-17ppg threat we saw in Philadelphia.

There just won’t be as many scoring opportunities for Miller. He’ll have the ball in his hands less, he’ll get less shots, and less post up attempts. He’ll be forced to spend more time on the perimeter moving the basketball (a strength) and taking jump shots (a weakness).

Playmaker

Andre Miller is an upgrade as a playmaker. He’s a very good passer and also very good at creating scoring opportunities for his teammates. He’s excellent at doing this in the open court as he did in Denver, or in the half court when he’s allowed control the basketball for the majority of the time as he did in Cleveland and Philadelphia. When he’s not allowed to control the ball, then a situation like the LA Clippers happens.

In Portland, Andre Miller will have to share the ball with Brandon Roy, and to a lesser degree with Portland’s two emerging post threats in Aldridge and Oden. That’s fine, Miller will still be a good playmaker and an upgrade over what Portland had before, but not quite as good he was in Phily.

Production Wise

If Portland signed Andre Miller, I’d expect him to put up 13-14 points per game and 5.5-6.5 assists. To do so with mediocre scoring efficiency while struggling with his jump shot. Defensively, Miller has been questioned over the last few months of the regular season with many claiming that he has declined defensively.

I think his inability to shoot the ball would wipe out the advantages gained from his passing ability.

Conclusions

I think Andre Miller would be a bad signing. For all his talents, he’s just an awful fit with the Blazers and his impact there will be severely limited. I think the Blazers should be looking in another direction.

Ideal PG

With a ball handling playmaking wing like Brandon Roy, the Blazers need a point guard with the following skills, in order of importance:

#1 Very good to excellent jump shoot so that the floor is spaced for Brandon Roy

#2 A good floor general — someone who can set up an offense and keep the ball moving — to keep the squad organized and make sure the ball is going to right person in the right place at the right time.

#3 Defensive ability

The above three are of huge importance. Steve Blake has the shooting ability, the floor general skills, and is a serviceable (slightly below average) defender. Blake actually compares favorably to Andre Miller in these three categories, largely due to his shooting prowess.

Of lesser importance are, again in order:

#4 Scoring skills — a Mo Williams type, a guy who can score 18ppg from the point position.

#5 Playmaking ability — ability to create shots for teammates, like a drive and kick point guard, a fastbreak guard, or a pick and roll guard. That type of stuff.

If we scroll back up and have a quick look at those skills again, we see the Blazers basically need a glue guy with a high level of skills in specific areas or a star performer with fairly high level of skills in those areas too.

Suggestion

A player the Blazers should be targeting is Kirk Hinrich — he’s very good in the three most important areas, and good at the following two. He’s the perfect type of glue guy that the Blazers need at the point guard position, someone who can hold together the team and provide leadership/direction.

The Blazers have reportedly inquired about Hinrich only to have been rebuffed, but they should step up their efforts and land the player who has the correct skill set and can actually make a substantial difference to their side. Hirnich is also in the prime of his career at 28 years of age, and will be able to help lead the Blazer for the next 5-6 years.

In other words

When you’re a team in the Blazers position, when you’re that close to being a title contender, fit is of massive importance. When you’re just a lowly 25 win or even a 45 win squad, talent reigns supreme (can always make changes at a later date to make things work), but when you’re where Portland is then it’s paramount that you continue to get the best out of the players you already have while adding players who can continue to play their best ball alongside their new teammates.

Andre Miller is not this type of player for Portland. He’s a very poor fit because he needs the ball in his hands and because he can’t hit jump shots. Nor does he make a significant difference to their defense. Miller won’t be able to play his best basketball in Portland, and his shooting flaws will hurt his teammates too. Portland should not be going after him.

Update — Miller Signs

RealGM has the press release

The Portland Trail Blazers have signed free agent guard Andre Miller to a multi-year contract, it was announced today by General Manager Kevin Pritchard. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.“We are excited to add a player of the caliber and character of Andre Miller,” said Pritchard. “He is one of the league’s ironmen who brings a wealth of veteran leadership to our team and is a great fit for our young and improving roster.”

Miller (6-2, 205, Utah) holds career averages of 14.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 7.4 assists and 1.38 steals in 815 games (768 starts) during his 10 NBA seasons with Cleveland, L.A. Clippers, Denver and Philadelphia.

“I’m really excited for this opportunity with the Trail Blazers and look forward to working with my new team,” said Miller. “I hope to provide veteran leadership to a young talented nucleus and help Portland take the next step in the pursuit of a championship.”

Linknice article from Phily Daily News on Miller leaving

Miller turned out to be the last man standing, in large part the result of a lengthy dinner meeting with Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard and coach Nate McMillan in Las Vegas.

“He knew everything about our team,” Pritchard said. “He has a tremendous basketball IQ. He feels he can get our guys 4-6 more points a game . . . He knew our team, how to play our team, how to get us extra possessions. I was really impressed with his leadership abilities. He seemed like a coach. Nate and him hit it off in the first 5 minutes.”

The Sixers had concerns with Miller’s age and defense. The Blazers didn’t seem to share that.

“He’s played in 530 straight games,” Pritchard said. “You look at some players who play at a higher level later [in their careers]. He’s more of a team defender now than he’s ever been before, and we have guys – Joel Pryzbilla, Greg Oden, LaMarcus Aldridge – who defend the paint pretty well. We think [Andre’s] going to be fine there.”

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