DENVER – The Wizards and Denver Nuggets will face each other for the first time since they pulled off a trade deadline swap of Jan Vesely for Andre Miller.
Vesely and Miller exchanged cities and jersey No. 24s, but they will likely take different approaches to the reunion. A 14-year veteran who has been traded four times in his career – including once before by the Nuggets – Miller said he wouldn’t feel any extra nerves upon his return to Pepsi Center.
“I went through it before when I went back as a 76er, so I don’t think it’ll really be that emotional,” Miller, who was shipped from Denver to Philadelphia in December 2006, said in a recent converation.
When Denver shipped Miller back then, the Nuggets were looking to get Allen Iverson. This time around, they were looking to get rid of a player who had no interest in being a part of the organization after an ugly, public spat on the bench with Nuggets Coach Brian Shaw.
Miller stayed away from the team for seven weeks until the trade and Shaw said before the game that both sides have moved on for the better.
“I feel that we have closure,” Shaw said. “It’s unfortunate situation that happened and neither one of us wanted that to happen but I don’t have a problem with him. I have the utmost respect for him, and still do, as a player. Once again, it was unfortunate, but he’s moved on and is in a better place in terms of his situation, his team is going to be in the playoffs. He’s going to be able to contribute to that. I’m happy for him to be in that situation, but for us we’ve gotten to develop and give some of the guys behind him a little more time. That’s the positive that I take out of that situation.”
Miller and Shaw haven’t spoken or been in the same room since Jan. 1 but Shaw said he doesn’t expect any problems if they are in the same vicinity on Sunday.
“I’m not going to go out of my way to not make contact or speak. If we cross paths, I have no problem with speaking with him. I’m sure both of us didn’t take this personal,” he said. “This is not the first time that these things have happened, so at least on my end, there is nothing personal at all. This will be the first time that we’ve actually laid eyes on each other since the first of January, when the incident took place and it’ll be the first time we’ve spoken, if we speak.”
Coach Randy Wittman said he wasn’t concerned about Miller being too fired up to face his former team. ”He was a big part of their success here. I’m sure it’s still fresh, but he’s 38 years old. He’s been traded before. He’s come back to opposing team before, so I’m not too worried about how he’s going to handle it.”
Vesely expressed his excitement about facing the Wizards two weeks ago. He never got much of an opportunity in Washington and Wittman didn’t have much to say about the 2011 sixth overall pick before the game.
“That’s gone. He’s no longer with us,” Wittman said. “Jan is a good kid. Worked hard. Wish guys like that the best of luck. You’d like to see guys like that succeed. It’s just a situation that didn’t work here for the most part and one that we see in bringing Andre here has made a big difference in making our second unit get stronger.”
Vesely has been used sparingly in Denver but will get more of an opportunity now that Nuggets center J.J. Hickson is done for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
“We were trying to figure out a way to include him more, because we haven’t had a chance to extensively look at him, but now it’s an opportunity for him to play and show us what he can do,” Shaw said. “In getting to know him over the last couple of weeks that he’s been here, just seeing him, in the limited practice time that we’ve had, he has a good feel for the game, in terms of his basketball IQ. I think obviously, everybody knows he’s very athletic. Can really run the floor. But is not very polished offensively. What I do like about him is he understands what his limitations are and plays within those limitations.”
(TV: Comcast SportsNet. Radio: WJFK-106.7 MF, WFED-1500 AM).
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