Blazers' Miller sticks to his game while questions mount
TUALATIN, Ore. — Portland Trail Blazers point guard Andre Miller stuck to his normal routine Monday.
After his teammates walked off the court following a two-hour practice, Miller kept shooting. He hoisted 3-pointers, mid-range jump shots and free throws. And by the time Miller’s solo workout was over, nearly another hour had passed.
But the 11-year NBA veteran still had work to do.
Miller fielded a variety of questions from the media, many of which centered around his thoughts on playing for the Blazers and his relationship with coach Nate McMillan.
Miller was limited to just six minutes of playing time in Portland’s 108-92 blowout road loss to the Utah Jazz last Saturday.
“It was the first time in my career I only played six minutes in a game,” Miller said at the team’s practice facility. “But things happen. I understand the politics and the business atmosphere. I deal with it.”
McMillan stated Monday that he pulled Miller out of the contest and then kept him on the bench because the veteran guard was not “moving good out on the floor.”
Miller said he felt fine, and added that recent ankle and hip injuries have not affected his play.
“I mean, they ask questions. If you’re all right. If you look sluggish,” Miller said. “If that’s the case, everybody looks sluggish, ‘cause we got blown out. So that’s not an excuse for me. I’ve played with pain, but that pain was minor.”
Miller added that he has given the Blazers maximum effort this season, all while adapting to his new role as a back up for starter Steve Blake.
Miller, who was signed during the offseason as the team’s main free-agent acquisition, is averaging 10.3 points, 4.7 assists and 2.7 rebounds per game, all of which are below his career averages.
“I haven’t done anything different since I came to this team. My practice habits are the same. It’s more, for me, I’m observing more,” Miller said. “The ball wasn’t handed to me and said, ‘Just go and run this team.’ That wasn’t the case here. I was brought here; they said, ‘Andre, you’re going to run the second unit.’ I kept it professional. That’s how I deal with it.”
McMillan stated that his relationship with Miller is “fine,” and described a conversation with Miller following the loss to the Jazz as productive.
“All discussions are positive,” McMillan said.
Meanwhile, Blazers guard Brandon Roy and center Greg Oden said they fully supported Miller.
“He’s fitting in, like, socially, fine,” Roy said. “We’re talking off the court. We’re at practice, communicating well. So, he’s fitting in. Now, it’s just a matter of understanding what coach wants and trying to get it down.”
Miller said the Blazers have the talent and desire to overcome their recent setbacks. And he added that he has been a quiet but strong leader who has attempted to unite the team, rather than divide it.
“It ain’t nothing about pointing fingers or anything,” Miller said. “We’ve just got to put the time in and eventually get over it.”