DENVER — Andre Miller left Denver with hard feelings. He's back now, and with a renewed sense of optimism.
When the Nuggets traded Miller for Allen Iverson in December 2006 the buzz focused on Denver adding a superstar to the roster. For Miller, leaving a team he liked, a coach he loved playing for and a place he called home was tough.
But 4 1/2 years later he is back with the Nuggets and put his disappointment behind.
"Honestly, I took it personal, the trade, and that was my motivation every time we came here to play," Miller said Monday. "It was just how it went down. I understand it was part of the business. It was just how it went down."
Miller played for the Nuggets from 2003-06 before he was shipped to Philadelphia. He returned to the team on a draft-day deal that also included Jordan Hamilton, the 26th pick in Thursday's draft, and a future second-round pick for point guard Raymond Felton.
The young players are embarking on their NBA careers while Miller comes in as a 12-year veteran. Denver is his fifth NBA city and the sixth stop in his career, but this trade is easier because he makes his offseason home in the area.
"It's more of a comfortable move for me because I have my house here and I get to sleep in my own bed again," he said.
Having established roots here made the trade to Philadelphia tougher, but he's happy to be playing for coach George Karl again.
"I've been knowing George since I was 18 years old when he came out to Utah when I was a freshman. We've had maybe one disagreement, and that was the trade, but for the most part it's a respectful relationship," Miller said. "He understands me as a player and I understand him as a coach and he knows I'm not going to cause any problems, I'm here to work, help guys get better and be a veteran leader."
When Miller signed with Denver eight years ago, the Nuggets had just drafted Carmelo Anthony out of Syracuse and were building a team around the young star. With Anthony now in New York, the roster lacks a big name but has talent. After trading Anthony to the Knicks in February the Nuggets went 18-7 and made the playoffs for the eighth straight season.
Miller is looking forward to being a mentor for the younger players.
"There are some hungry players," he said. "That's the main thing, being around some players that are hungry, still proving themselves in this league and earning respect. You've got a couple of good veterans here. Hopefully they'll be able to come back with Kenyon (Martin) and J.R. (Smith), but for the most part you have some hungry, hard workers.
"Coming back to an offense where George lets you play, make a few mistakes and then he'll pull the reins in. For the most part, there's a lot of talent here, inside and outside, a lot of hustlers and I'm happy to be around that."
Hamilton and Faried said Monday they are eager to learn from the coaching staff and their new teammates. Faried is known for his defense and rebounding and Hamilton was a scorer and a rebounder in his two years at Texas.
Hamilton says his game will be a good fit with a point guard like Miller.
"He's a great passer, he facilitates and he gets his wings the ball," he said. "He'll definitely get his assists up."5 comments on this story
Miller averaged 14 points and 7.3 assists in 269 games in his first tour with Denver, but those numbers came as a starter. Ty Lawson has taken over the starting point guard role, and Miller is happy to come off the bench if that's his role.
"I'm not going to get caught up in the who's starting and who's not," he said. "At this point in my career, it'll burn you out."
Miller has been a durable player in his 12 years. He has missed just six games in his career and played every game in a season eight times. He is 35 and feels he can play five more years at a high level.
"I have a lot in me. I get a little irritated at times when people throw the age factor out there and they never throw it out there with the (Jason) Kidds and the (Steve) Nashes," he said. "I'm one of the more durable players in the league. I feel young, no bumps no bruises, and I'm going to continue to do the same thing."