Stefanski seems in no rush to trade Miller
The GM said the Sixers were not shopping the point guard, despite the speculation prompted by the Kyle Korver trade.
SEATTLE - Shortly before tip-off of the 76ers' 98-90 win against the Seattle SuperSonics on Monday, Sixers president and general manager Ed Stefanski felt compelled to talk about a popular subject: trade rumors regarding Andre Miller.
Since Stefanski dealt Kyle Korver on Saturday to the Utah Jazz for Gordan Giricek and a future first-round pick, his phone has been ringing.
The calls have come from reporters and NBA executives figuring that phase two of his plan will involve dealing Miller.
That's why Stefanski offered to address the issue without being prompted.
"The trade we made, we felt it set us up in the summertime to either get a free agent or a possible trade because we're under the cap," Stefanski said outside the Sixers' locker room at KeyArena. "We don't know who that player is. . . .
"We're happy with our team and will see what happens in the summer, but I am not shopping Andre Miller around the league."
Stefanski said that as of now, he projected the Sixers to be about $10 million under the salary cap next year. This season's cap is $55.6 million.
That might not sound like much, but it's likely more than any other NBA team will have. Of course, the Sixers could go even further under the cap if Miller were dealt for a player with an expiring contract, but Stefanski does not seem to be thinking in those terms.
"We like the players we have on our team now, and Andre Miller is an integral part of our team, the glue of the team, who happens to make other players better," Stefanski said.
There is no bigger fan of Jason Kidd's than Stefanski, who had a close relationship with the point guard during their days together in New Jersey. Kidd is a future Hall of Famer, which makes Stefanski's next comment telling.
"I happened to be around a Jason Kidd, and you see a Steve Nash, and Andre Miller is that kind of guy," Stefanski said. "He makes players better."
It is no secret that the Sixers are looking for a high-scoring power forward, either through free agency or a trade.
If the Sixers upgrade at that position, then Miller, who will be 32 in March and is signed through 2008-09, will become even more valuable to keep. And since his game is not predicated on speed or quickness, there should be no reason he cannot remain at a high level for four or five years.
"For us to take that next step to that next level, Andre Miller would be a nice player to have on the team," Stefanski said.
While a cynic may call that Stefanski's way to drive up the asking price, he has seen in about a month on the job how many ways Miller can contribute and how he has been a good influence with his selfless attitude.
Miller has never hinted at wanting to be traded.
"Andre really likes the players on the 76ers and playing on this team," his agent, Lon Babby, said yesterday.
Miller also is thriving. Could this be the year that he earns his first all-star appearance?
After a poor start, he has come on strong and is averaging 16.1 points, 6.4 assists and 2.58 turnovers. Miller is shooting 49.4 percent from the field.
At one point, he was struggling at the foul line, shooting below 60 percent, but now he is up to 72.3 percent.
"A lot of guys are playing well here, and that is why we've been winning lately," said Miller, whose team has won nine of its last 13 games.
In the NBA's Eastern Conference, it can be argued that Kidd and Detroit's Chauncey Billips are having better seasons than Miller. Billups has made 44 percent of his shots from the field. Kidd has made 37 percent.
Miller has meant as much to his team as any of the league's point guards.
That is why the idea of keeping him seems more appealing to Stefanski with each game.