Andre Miller & Nate McMillan argue at practice

Or the Andre Miller saga continues, part 23.

If you have not heard by now, there was an argument/altercation/screamfest/exchange at today’s practice between Blazers coach Nate McMillan and Andre Miller. Reporters were not let into practice yet  but could overhear some of the shouting match. Jason Quick of the Oregonian stated that the “…shouting match lasted nearly 30 minutes” and that “Miller shouted throughout the exchange, and McMillan mostly listened, but at times broke in with shouting of his own.” More from Quick:

“One of the topics discussed was an incident late in Tuesday’s game with Memphis, when Miller told Jerryd Bayless to make his second free throw with 4.3 seconds left and the Blazers trailing by two. The coaching staff and team captain Brandon Roy told Bayless to miss the free throw so the Blazers could attempt to rebound and make a tying basket.”

Brian T. Smith of the Columbian was able to pull out his inner TMZ and deciphered some quotes. The following is from his piece on the argument:

“What the (heck) did I do?” Miller asked McMillan.

Miller then said, “I ain’t going to take this (stuff).”

McMillan soon fired back: “I’m saying you don’t make that call. You don’t.”

And Portland’s coach later added: “You don’t play the way we want to play.”

The aftermath: Andre Miller was not available for comment, Nate was not spilling any beans (he shouldn’t) and Kevin Pritchard was acting as if it was no big deal, even being reported as saying the exchange was ‘normal’. I’m sure people will point to Nate and say he should say something. I disagree. It seems as if it was a team discussion and as open as this team is, there needs to be a line where things stay within the team. Blazer fans are an information hungry bunch, preying on details (can’t blame me) but I applaud Nate for keeping this in-house. Pritchard made a lot of sense with some of the quotes attributed to him. There could be an argument made that maybe he’s playing cleanup or trying to avoid a situation where he looks silly for bringing Miller here in the first place. I don’t see KP as the type to do that though.

The Blazer blogosophere has been all over this story this afternoon. To the point where I felt the need to add my two cents into this. This has been blown out of proportion. First off, it just seems like Miller was venting and there is nothing wrong with that. Like I said during Re-Thoughts this week, sometimes it feels as if Miller is being professional and may be holding his true opinions back. If that is true than eventually there is going to be a breaking point where everything comes off your chest eventually. And honestly, I’m happier that Miller vented directly to Nate in an open team forum than to a reporter ala that Yahoo story from early in the season. I don’t see this as being that huge of a deal. Coaches and players are not always supposed to see eye to eye. Especially when you have two strong personalities like Miller and McMillan, there is going to be a clash. Obviously the Blazers have a policy where players can speak their mind. Today, Andre Miller did. I’m not seeing this as Andre Miller sealing his fate here in Portland, I just see it as a discussion between player and coach trying to get back on the same page.

Honestly, it’s a bit of a shame this is being portrayed as such a big deal. There’s this sinking feeling that there is so much more to the story than we may ever know. It’s confusing because Nate’s been quoting as saying he wanted Andre Miller here and Andre Miller saying how much he wanted to be here. I think the lack of concrete details is leading to speculation, and that’s only human nature. Obviously any sort of discussion that can be qualified as ‘heated’ by reporters is news, but it just seems like this is bigger than it should be. The only reason this is a story is because of how iffy Miller has been this year. Not on the court, but off of it. There have always been lingering questions about Miller all year and it’s truthfully been annoying. I really wish he had not given that interview a few days ago where he still said how ‘lost’ he was and what not because whether he meant to or not, the statements he’s made this year opened the door for this to be a bigger story than it should be. The timing of the story isn’t great because Miller truly has been playing some of his best basketball of the season as of late. He’s been a major reason why the Blazers have won 8 of their last 12. The Miller we’ve seen as of late is the guy we expected from the start of the season. I still feel that he has benefited the most out of anyone from all of the injuries because we’ve seen him just go out and play. Things will get mighty interesting when Steve Blake returns to the lineup I’ll tell you that much.

COUP UPDATE
: SJ and I were writing the same post at the same time, so I’ll just piggyback on his with my own thoughts.

My take from not having been there is I doubt it changes much of anything. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Andre Miller probably hasn’t been all too happy playing 28 minutes per game and sitting out many fourth quarters, not to mention being sat often in favor of an inferior player. Nobody who has had Miller’s career would be happy with that. Strike one.

From Nate’s perspective, we know he was reluctant to start Miller and play him next to Brandon Roy, and yet pressure came from all angles to make the switch. Of course, Nate had said for a while now that he’s wanted to add veterans to this team, only the veteran he got wasn’t exactly the type of player or personality he had in mind — that was likely Juwan Howard. And when it seems like a player is purposefully contradicting you on the court with a play that could have meant the difference between winning and losing, you’d be a little irked. Strike two.

Strike three is just all the other frustrations that come with injuries and the realization you are playing or coaching in a lost season for a team both parties expected to compete for the Western Conference.

So before everyone gets too Millergate on this, it’s pertinent to ask what the big problem is with them having an argument. It demonstrates a disconnect between player and coach, yes, but not of team rules or public conduct or, thank the basketball gods, legal issues. They were arguing about strategy and have probably argued at other times about minutes. Those are things that have to do with winning basketball games.

It may come to pass that Miller truly can’t fit in with this team, but there’s no need to condemn anyone for that. In the meantime, two people have their own opinions in a difficult situation and the only difference is one of them is a veteran coach on the floor and the other is the coach, period. You know who is going to win that battle.

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Tags: Andre Miller Andre Miller Argument Andre Miller Nate Mcmillan Nate McMillan Portland Trail Blazers

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