Some thoughts and analysis in a bit but first here's the full text of Andre Miller's press conference on Tuesday afternoon. Nate McMillan, Kevin Pritchard and Andre Miller all take questions.
Going back through the text, I was surprised by how many interesting nuggets are in there. Click through to read.
-- Ben (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Questions are paraphrased; answers are transcribed.
Kevin Pritchard: Thanks everybody for coming out. It's a great day today. I was kidding with Andre in the back this is like every day in Portland. Sunny, warm, time to hit the lake, and he agreed. Everybody out there right now, make sure you stay on a consistent message. It's always sunny.
Sometimes things happen for a reason. And I believe that. We've had some good luck here. We've had some things happen that have really worked out. Nate's been a huge part of that. We believe in our process. One thing we're really excited about is adding Andre to the team. What he brings to the team is very unique. I know I talked a little bit about this in the past in the conference call but I'll reiterate again... I don't know if I've ever been in a dinner where there are 4 or 5 guys talking basketball and then 3 get excluded and it was them 2 talking about basketball and it was like no one else was in the room or in the building. It was great to see. It felt like 2 coaches. More than anything we know what Andre can do on the floor, there's no doubt about it. He's a winner. He's won everywhere he's gone. He makes his teams better, he makes his teammates better. He's great in the locker room. We talked about it when we played Philly a couple times this year about how much he controls the game by his words. That's something that's special. We felt like we needed that. It's going to be a competition at every position. Andre is an amazing player. He's going to fit into our culture, that's something we feel very strongly about. We know about him as a kid, we know him on the court, we know him off the court, and we've gotten very comfortable. It's great to introduce Andre Miller to our team.
How does it feel?
Andre Miller: Feels pretty good. Feels pretty good. Like Kevin said it was a process when we met, we sat down and had dinner and pretty much talked basketball. This decision wasn't that complicated. It was just waiting around, being a free agent like this, knowing how the economy and everything is going on. I tried not to stress over it but this was my number one choice, regardless of any other situation.
Thoughts on your new team
Andre Miller: There's talent on every level. You've got bigs, you've got athletic wings, you've got an all star, I've always told myself playing with talent I can help a team get to a winning level, the playoffs and hopefully a championship. It's challenging but I think the talent is there.
Kevin said you knew the Blazers very well.
Andre Miller: I think as a basketball player you have to know who you're playing against first of all. Watching this team, watching how they play together and share the ball, and they fight. That's the main thing. Like I said the decision wasn't hard, they've put a good team together, they have a good coach and we'll try to take it to the next level.
When I first heard the trade rumors from my agent it was an extra incentive to go out and play even harder, especially when we came over here and played on the west coast. It was an extra incentive and make an impression. But at the same time I've always been the same player, a communicator on the court, I think that's something that's helped me get by in this league.
What do you bring to the team?
Andre Miller: As far as the communication thing, it's an important thing, the main thing is putting them in position where they can get easier baskets. Not work as hard on offense. Defensively the team is solid I think for me being a point guard it's more of a direction thing and finding ways to get easier baskets, whether it's a pick and roll or setting screens. I think by me communicating that I think it will rub off on players.
Have you talked to any of your teammates?
Andre Miller: I haven't talked to any of them yet. I don't know any of the players. We have plenty of time to do that once training camp comes around. The good thing I like about this team and observing them is they get along well, there's no big egos, it's young guys that are hungry and eager to prove themselves.
What's your favorite part of the game?
Andre Miller: I enjoy winning that's the reason why I came here. The team had a really good season last year. I try not to make the sport hard. Just go out and play basketball. That's something I've been doing a long time. I don't put any added pressure on the team, that's something I expressed to Coach and Kevin.
What does Andre add to this team?
Nate McMillan: He definitely raises our basketball IQ. He's a leader. He is a true point in the sense that he knows how to direct, he knows situations on the floor, he makes reads, he's big in those situations for years now. Just raising our basketball IQ, the sense that we have a lot of shooters and a lot of guys that can do a lot of good things. We have guys that can run, guys that can shoot, set screens, his play will make them better because he will put the ball in their hands when they are open. They will be able to get out and run because they know they will receive the ball. A lot of times our point guards have to make decisions on the floor and for the last few years a lot of times we were calling timeouts to make calls. Andre just has a great feel for time/score situations over the course of the game, whether it's telling the team we need to d up and get a stop or telling the team offensively that we need to go to the basket because we're shooting too many perimeter shots. He has a great feel for the game and I think he's a great fit for us.
Describe the offseason process
Nate McMillan: Kevin and I talked. Not only did we talk but the coaching staff and management talked about what we needed. We wanted to add talent to the roster. In the draft, we wanted to draft a player that we could put over in Europe so that we would have money to go after a free agent, and we did that. We felt like we needed to add another ballhandler to the roster. There were two things we wanted to add: a ballhandler and a physical 4. And we were able to get that. We got the ballhandler, a guy who can create, who should be able to take the pressure and some of the decisions out of Brandon's hands in a sense of normally we go to Brandon a lot when we want to create. I think Andre will be able to do that. We had to be a little patient but Kevin has done a great job of trying to do the right thing. We've said all along we are going to do what makes sense for this organization. We're not going to patch up something. We're not going to do something for the sake of doing it. It must make sense for now and the future. We made some offers to some players but obviously things happened for a reason. Andre has always been a guy we've had a lot of interest in, even at the trade deadline there was some conversation there. But we chose to keep our roster the same and now he will be in a Blazers uniform and I think it's a good situation, a good opportunity for Andre and a good opportunity for us.
The offseason waiting game
Andre Miller: The economy, there were options but not too many options. I just tried to keep myself busy. Whether it was hanging out with my son or visiting family, I just felt like things would eventually fall into place, it wasn't something where I was calling my agent every day, like "what's going on?" I had to take the initiative, get on the airplane and meet with the teams that I was interested in. This was the first choice, we had a good dinner and a conversation.
How does Andre change this team?
Nate McMillan: One thing he will be able to do is that he likes to run. And we want to run. I think transition baskets, the tempo is set by the players on the floor. Andre is a very good rebounder for a guard. He and Jason Kidd are probably two of the better point guards that rebound and push it, and start the break off the boards. I anticipate and hope that we are getting out in transition. But he will have the feel to know when to set up and run an offense. Forcing the tempo, pushing the ball is something that we want to do but also understanding that if there's nothing there we need to set up and execute.
Does adding Andre change your late game strategy and take the ball out of Brandon's hands?
Nate McMillan: No, no no. We've really added depth to our roster. At the end of games will be decided by what we do, who is out there, what play we go to, players we can trust to make decisions with the ball. Brandon was the guy for us, he's been the guy for the last few years. Travis was a go-to guy that when the game was on the line and we needed a bucket those were the two guys that we played through. I think Andre getting the ball in a pick and roll situation or posting him up... Rudy could be that guy, LaMarcus, I expect him to improve. We'll have options, whatever is working for us, we're going to go to it and try to take advantage of it.
Response to those questioning his age
Andre Miller: I ignore all that. I mean, my body doesn't feel 33 and that's just an age thing to me - I don't think I really have had any slippage in my game. I still think I'm at a point where I'm still peaking I think. I'm not going to get worked up or worry about what people are saying. I feel like once I step on the court I am competitive and that's all I need to do.
Addressing Andre's Age
Kevin Pritchard: I want to get back to something that Andre was saying. We think he's as competitive as ever before. We saw last year in his production, they won, we felt like he was a big part of getting a young team to the playoffs the last couple of years. One thing that impressed me about Andre - he never misses practice and he never misses games. You can say maybe age is a factor but when you're doing those two things you're keeping your body right and your mind right. We talked a little bit about that at dinner and we feel comfortable with that. The last pieces are the hardest. The good news for us is we feel like we have a lot of players that fit with what we are about and moving forward can be a part of a potential championship team. Andre escalates that with his experience and he talked a lot about how he helps certain players. I don't want to get into who he specifically helped, but he did talk about how I helped a young team. How I helped this kid become a pro. How I got him easier buckets. It wasn't just in generalities, it was very specific. I think that's probably what impressed us the most, he understands basketball, he really has a great basketball IQ. We needed that. If you look in the playoffs, the teams that get the farthest are the most talented and they're also the smartest.
This is the first time you've played in a one-sport town. Are you ready for the intense focus?
Andre Miller: It's actually funner for me. I went to college in Utah, you have the Jazz but it's a college town too. Coming in here I think I will be more focused as far as the team and proving a lot of people wrong. I find ways to keep myself motivated and whatever anyone says, whether it's negative I try to turn it into a positive and turn it into motivation. The focus is going to be fun, I enjoy coming here as a visitor playing, that was one of the fun things and motivation for playing well when I did come here.
Is this the most talented team you've played on?
Andre Miller: This is going to be the youngest, when I got traded to Philadelphia they were saying that team was young and this team is even younger. I think the team when I got traded to the Clippers - that was a talented team, but it was too many egos. It was tough to win in that situation. Like I said earlier, I observed this team and the way they play well together, they compete, there's no big egos. I think when you add a little bit of communication to that as a point guard it makes the job a little bit easier. I can tell you from being on those Clippers teams, every meeting was we need to communicate more, and that helps a lot. That helps a team get over the hump, communication, understanding each other and that's a big part of basketball.
You said earlier you were a Lakers fan
Andre Miller: That was when I was growing up. I just did that to spark a little fire. That's something that's all the way in the past. One of the most exciting things for me as far as coming to this team is being back in the conference and playing against a [Denver] team that traded me. That's a big motivation for me. Knowing I can help this team hopefully win a championship.
Kevin Pritchard: Andre has been terrific through this. His agent, Andy Miller, has been terrific. Without both those guys, without Andy in this, we wouldn't have been able to get this done. So thanks to him as well.
-- Ben (email@example.com)