Ever since the beginning of training camp, the point guard logjam in Portland has been an ongoing issue. Andre Miller wants to start and is not happy with his role with the Blazers. He has struggled to fit in with the team’s system and there is speculation that he’s on the trading block. Jerryd Bayless just wants consistent minutes and is reportedly looking to be moved. Steve Blake’s numbers have been significantly down from a season ago and although he hasn’t asked out of the Rose City, you can bet he wouldn’t mind seeing Miller go.
Right now, the Blazers are struggling and are trying to find answers. They’ve lost six of their last eight games and have dropped to the eighth spot in the West. Both Miller and Bayless have both vented their frustration to the media. Bayless, who was the team’s first round draft pick in 2008, has proven that he can produce when given meaningful minutes. He’s scored over double digits four times this season despite never getting more than 22 minutes of action.
“I know every time I play I’ve helped this team. Every single time,” Bayless told The Oregonian recently. “It’s tough. Especially since, and I hate saying this, seeing these other guys (Blake and Miller) doing what they are doing. I know I can help this team. I know I can.”
Miller’s stats have also taken a nose dive this season. He is averaging 11.4 ppg, 4.5 apg, 2.8 rpg on 41 percent shooting versus 16.3 ppg, 6.5 apg, 4.5 rpg on 47 percent shooting a season ago. He clearly seems unhappy in Portland, but has tried to maintain a professional attitude.
“It’s a business,” Miller told the media last week. “I don’t get caught up in pointing fingers. I’m here to play basketball. I came in here with a professional attitude, and that’s how I want to keep it. If people want to point fingers at me, I could care less about that. I’ll be all right.”
Miller’s style of play contrasts with his teammates. He is more of a slow down guard who needs the ball in his hands, while the team needs somebody who can play off Brandon Roy and can knock down open shots when Roy gets doubled. It would be in the team’s best interest to move ‘Dre, but like Stephen Jackson, that’s easier said than done considering Miller’s age (33) and the remainder of his contract (he just signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Blazers over the offseason). It should be noted that Miller is eligible to be traded tomorrow (Dec. 15).
If they are able to get rid of Miller (preferably for a big man), there will be more stability at the point guard spot. Coach Nate McMillan or interim coach Dean Demopoulos won’t have to worry about micro-managing their minutes or trying to play them simultaneously. Blake would start to look comfortable again and they can hopefully rekindle the same chemistry they enjoyed in 2008-09.
Getting rid of Miller would open up an opportunity for Bayless, who could resume Sergio Rodriguez’s role from a season ago. Although Bayless is an explosive offensive player, he plays more like a shooting guard and needs time to hone his point guard skills. Playing behind Blake for a season or two will allow him to develop before taking over as the starting point guard.
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