Based on Andre Miller’s production and stabilizing presence off the bench in just three months in Washington, the Wizards have always been inclined to keep the 15-year veteran point guard.
If the Wizards let Sunday’s deadline pass without requesting waivers, the team will guarantee his contract for $4.6 million next season. A league source with knowledge of the team’s thinking said the Wizards are “leaning in that direction.”
The Wizards acquired Miller from the Denver Nuggets on Feb. 20 in a trade-deadline deal for failed former lottery pick Jan Vesely. In 28 games in Washington, the 38-year-old Miller averaged 3.8 points and 3.5 assists and emerged as a deliberate and steady backup for all-star John Wall. Miller advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in his career, averaging four points and 0.8 assists in 11 games against Chicago and Indiana.
Miller, 38, ranks ninth all-time in career assists and stated that he would like to finish his career in Washington.
The Wizards could have bought out Miller for $2 million and had more money under the salary cap as they approach free agency. But with Miller returning, the Wizards would have six players under contract — Wall, Bradley Beal, Nene, Martell Webster and Otto Porter — combining for almost $46 million in salaries.
The cap is expected to increase to about $63 million, leaving the team with significant room as it attempts to fill out the roster and retain center Marcin Gortat and Trevor Ariza. Washington received something of a break this week when Dallas traded for center Tyson Chandler, erasing a potential challenger for Gortat.
Since dealing Kirk Hinrich to Atlanta in 2011, the Wizards had struggled to find a suitable backup for Wall. They agreed to terms with Eric Maynor on the first day of the free agent negotiating period last summer but gave up on him within the first month of the regular season.
Miller fit in almost immediately in Washington, where he was eager to play after returning from a seven-week stalemate with the Nuggets. He formed a solid bench rotation with Al Harrington and Drew Gooden and relieved Wall from being the primary playmaker some nights.
His value to the team was summed up in one play during a blowout win against Miami. Miller grabbed a rebound under the Heat’s basket and tossed a full-court pass to Bradley Beal for a layup. It was simply known as “The Pass” for the rest of the season.
But the best part of the play is what happened next. Miller was substituted in the subsequent timeout for Wall. When he was asked about leaving the game after making one of the best passes of the season, Miller responded, “Rotations, man.” And never complained about it.