Return to Nuggets was an easy decision for Andre Miller

Veteran point guard signs new contract to stay in Denver
by Aaron Lopez

Since first joining the Nuggets as a free agent in 2003, Andre Miller settled in and considered Denver his adopted home.

When it came time to sign a new contract, he saw no reason to leave town.

“I’ve been living here almost 10 years,” Miller said Wednesday. “I’m happy to be back. I didn’t really want to go anywhere else.”

The Nuggets wasted no time securing the veteran point guard to a new contract, inking him to a multiyear deal on the first day that free agents could sign with NBA teams.

Miller, 36, who played for the Nuggets from 2003-06, provided stability and leadership in the backcourt last season after returning to Denver as part of a three-team trade on June 23, 2011.

Miller averaged 9.7 points and a team-leading 6.7 assists while playing in all 66 games. He served as the anchor of Denver’s second unit and frequently played alongside starting point guard Ty Lawson as part of coach George Karl’s fourth-quarter lineup.

“The way we ended the season, it was very clear that we had to have Andre back,” Karl said. “His leadership to Ty and the second unit off the bench was first-class.”

Primarily a starter throughout his career, Miller accepted his role off the bench. Speculation that he was unhappy in that role proved unfounded.

“I expect pretty much the same thing next year,” he said. “Nothing different. It will be a new season at this role. I’m happy.”

With an average age of 25.6, the Nuggets had the second-youngest roster of any playoff team last season, and executive vice president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri made it a priority to re-sign Miller.

“Andre was great for our team and our young guys,” Ujiri said. “He provides leadership and consistency and he really fits perfectly in our system. We’re very happy to have him back.”

In addition to ranking 10th on the NBA’s career assist list, Miller brings durability that’s unrivaled among his contemporaries. He has missed only four games due to injury in 13 seasons and played the final 20 games of 2011-12 with a separated shoulder.

With a full summer to recover, Miller certainly will be ready to resume his ironman routine.

“I’m just happy we’re going to be a part of a guy’s career as it heads into the sunset,” Karl said. “I think we’re still going to see many, many special games. His leadership and his passing are fun to be a part of.”

Shortly after finalizing Miller’s new deal, the Nuggets signed shooting guard Evan Fournier to a rookie contract. Fournier was selected 20th overall in the June 28 NBA Draft.

“It’s like a dream,” Fournier said. “There’s no words. I’m just very happy.”

The Nuggets now have 14 players under contract for 2012-13, and Ujiri is still intent on re-signing center JaVale McGee. Because McGee is a restricted free agent, Denver has the option to match any offer he receives from another team.