For starters, ex-Ute star Miller wants to be one

Andre Miller, the former University of Utah star point guard and the Portland Trail Blazers' top free agent acquisition during the offseason, was sitting on the bench in sweats when Thursday night's game against the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena tipped off. Miller ended up having a nice night, scoring 13 points in 22 minutes in a reserve role during the Blazers' 99-96 exhibition loss to the Jazz . But Miller is on record saying he would rather have been in the starting lineup ? and he caused a stir last week in Portland for being so blunt.

Instead, he's in a battle with incumbent Steve Blake for the role as Portland's No. 1 point guard. "If I was told right out when I had my meetings (with the Blazers) that I would be a backup, then I wouldn't have come here," Miller told Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports last week. That sentiment hasn't helped Miller's image in Portland, where he had already gotten off on the wrong foot with some after signing a three-year, $21 million contract during the summer. It was reported that on the first day of training camp, Miller was the only player with a guaranteed contract to fail a conditioning test. Plus, he has been criticized by fans, who see him as being aloof. On Thursday night, Miller called the reports of his conditioning issues "overblown." "I've never had a conditioning problem since I've been in this league," he said. Miller's play on the court so far for the Blazers seems to back him up. One could argue that he's been Portland's top player during the preseason. The 10-year veteran ? who has started two of Portland's five exhibition games ? entered the outing against the Jazz averaging a team-best 15.5 points and 4.3 assists per game. In addition to his 13 points on Thursday, he also grabbed four rebounds and dished out four assists in 22 minutes. He's the only Blazer who has scored in double figures in all five preseason games. Blake, meanwhile, had his best game of the exhibition season on Thursday, making 5-of-9 3-pointers and finishing with a game-high 19 points in 22 minutes. Jerryd Bayless, Portland's third point guard, also played well against the Jazz . He scored 13 points with seven assists in 30 minutes. Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan hasn't decided which point guard will start when the regular season begins, but he is a fan of Miller's game and likes what he's seen so far. "He trying to adjust," McMillan said of Miller. "There has been a change of address for him, a whole new system and coaching staff and teammates, and it's going to take some time for him to really get comfortable. But he's working to get himself into shape and to understand what we try to do. We think he's going to help us this year." Miller has been amazingly consistent and durable during his NBA career. He has played in a current league-high 530 consecutive games and he's coming off a season where he averaged 16.3 points, 6.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds for the Philadelphia 76ers. He has been a starter throughout his career, so it's easy to understand why he would want to continue in that role with the young, talented Blazers. Miller said Thursday that he is a "team player" and will do whatever is asked of him this season. He also said he's happy to simply have a job in the NBA ? and that he likes being a Blazer. "It will take some time getting use to the guys, that's the main thing," Miller said. "I like the attitude of the team and I like the work habits." e-mail:

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: October 17, 2009