Today (Tuesday, Dec. 15) is the first day of the season last summer’s free agents -- more than 70 in all -- are eligible to be traded.
In the most recent Weekend Dime my good friend Marc Stein reported that Andre Miller appears to be the player on that list most likely to be changing uniforms soon.
While it does make sense that the Blazers would shop Miller, who has struggled to fit into the Blazers’ tight culture and to find good chemistry with his teammates on the floor, I’ve been hearing another name from the Portland backcourt: Steve Blake. Two general managers told me they’ve called the Blazers to inquire about Miller's availability and been told that Miller isn’t available right now. Rather, those two GMs have reason to believe that Portland GM Kevin Pritichard is shopping Blake.
One reason is that he’s struggled to get the offense going smoothly. This problem is compounded by the fact that Blazers coach Nate McMillan has felt pressure to play Blake because Roy prefers to play with Blake instead of Miller. If Blake were traded, that pressure would disappear.
Two, Blake is easier to move and may have more trade value. While Miller is the more talented player, Blake makes less money and has an expiring contract, while Miller has a fairly expensive three-year deal.
Three, in the opinion of one GM, the Blazers won’t be quick to give up on Miller, the thought being that they don’t want to pull the plug and admit an error just seven weeks into the season. If Blake is out of the way, Miller will have more time to mesh with Roy and make it work.
And four, there is yet another source of internal pressure: Jerryd Bayless, who has become very restless about his lack of minutes and is speaking out. Pritchard likes Bayless’ potential and doesn’t want to give him away. While Bayless hasn’t, according to sources, requested a trade, he will ask out if the situation doesn’t change, and Pritchard wants to avoid that scenario.