Since Andre Miller's interview with Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports there's been a lot of discussion about what Nate did or didn't tell Andre over dinner in Vegas. While there's no audio recording of that dinner, there is audio of both Nate and Andre from July 28, the day before Andre came to Portland for his first press conference. This is the first time either of them spoke about their now infamous dinner conversations. So now you can hear both of them address the issue of who would start at point guard.
First however, let's look closely at what Marc Spears wrote (Link to Oct 10 article):
“If I was told right out when I had my meetings that I would be a backup, then I wouldn’t have come here,” Miller told Yahoo! Sports this week."
Obviously he came here. So what did Miller mean?
a) Did he mean Nate promised him the starting spot, else he wouldn't have come here? If so, then this is a complaint that Nate mislead him into thinking the starting spot was his.
b) Or did he mean that he wouldn't have come here if he had been told that he would definitely be a backup, and not have a chance to compete for the starting spot. If that is what he meant, there's nothing wrong with a player of Miller's stature not wanting to go to a team where the starting spot was "locked up" for another guy.
So is Miller complaining that he was promised the starting spot, or simply stating that he was promised the chance to compete for the starting spot? If the latter, there is no conflict here, unless Miller's claiming that he isn't getting a real chance to compete? (He started on Friday so that makes little sense.) You decide.
But then Spears wrote:
McMillan has said he told Miller during their summer meeting in Las Vegas that he very well might make him a reserve. Miller doesn’t remember the meeting quite the same way.
There are no quotations here from Miller or Nate. So what does Spears mean:
c) that Nate said he told Miller in Vegas the starting spot was up for competition, but Miller claims it was promised to him?
d) that Nate said he told Miller in Vegas the starting spot was locked up for Blake, but Miller believes Nate told him it was up for competition?
Interpretation c) goes with interpretation a) above. This is the negative way to view the article - Miller claiming he was promised the starting spot to come to Portland. Does that make sense? Remember that Miller had no other offers except to return to Philly on a one year contract, or to try to get a one year deal with NY (NY wouldn't sign anyone, not even David Lee, to more than a one year contract). No one else that had cap space wanted him. (Miller said that himself in another Oregonian article.) So it was Miller begging Portland for a $7M deal longer than one year. Nate didn't need to mislead Miller to convince him to come here.
Interpretation d) goes with interpretation b) above if Spears uses Nate's statements about Blake starting to mean Blake starts the regular season without Miller getting a chance to compete. Is that what Nate meant? Or is Spears just using that narrow interpretation of Nate's words to create apparent conflict between Nate and Miller? You decide.
So now let's go to the Audio Tapes ....
This article (Link) by OregonLive.com's Sean Meagher contains 3 audio recordings of Miller and Nate.
First, there's Miller on the Bald-Faced Truth with John Canzano:
Canzano: “Do you expect to start – have that given to you. Or do you go into camp saying I go to earn this job?
Andre: Nothing is given. You’re going to always have to earn it ... My expectation is to go in and compete for a starting job.
Clearly on July 28 Andre is not saying he was promised the starting job. That would seem to rule out the negative interpretations a) and c) above.
So next, did Nate say the starting job was Blake's unconditionally for the regular season, or did he say it was Blake's to start the preseason and it would be open for competition?
Here's Nate on Trail Blazers Courtside:
Barrett: A lot of people have assumed that Miller will come in and start. … Did you guys discuss with Andre at the Dinner … is Miller a guy - who the people assuming he's going to start - are they correct?
Nate: No, they’re not. I talked to Andre about that. …. Steve Blake started last year. Our starting unit last year won 54 games. We’re not going to mess with that starting unit at the beginning. We will start out the same way with Brandon and Steve as our guards, and bring Andre and Rudy as the guards off the bench.
So Nate says he told Andre at the Dinner that Blake would start. Clearly then, Nate would dispute that he promised Andre the starting job. But it's not clear in this audio if Nate meant that Blake would start the preseason or the regular season when he said "at the beginning".
So we go to the last tape of McMillan on Wheels at Work:
Wheels: Will you look at combinations and decide maybe which unit each guy fits in best with?
Nate: Well, I will look at combinations. But I talked to Andre about that. … I talked to him about coming off the bench and playing in that role. … That will take care of itself once we get into camp. But right now Blake is our starting point guard. Andre, I talked to him about that and he was fine with coming in and just doing whatever is needed to make the club better.
Again, Nate says that Blake is the starter, and he talked to Andre about coming off the bench and Andre was fine with it. So clearly Nate would dispute any suggestion that Andre was promised a starting job to come to Portland. But Nate says "that will take care of itself once we get into camp". Did he mean the starting spot for the regular season was open for competition during training camp?
It seems to me this is a lot to do about nothing, and perhaps this post is just more to do about nothing. But I thought it useful to break down the statements from Spears article and to present the most relevant audio clips I could find. I don't think Miller is claiming he was promised the starting spot, and I don't see how he could feel that he is being denied a chance to earn the starting spot. The audio certainly supports the former and the fact he started the last preseason game refutes the latter. This "controversy" appears to be more a result of how Spears wrote the article, than what Andre actually said.
Why he chose to talk to Spears at all is another matter. If as he said today, he was trying to put forth his side in the media it looks to me like it backfired and Spears didn't do him any favors.