Guard Boykins agrees to 5-year deal with Denver
By Aaron J. Lopez, Rocky Mountain News
August 2, 2003
Though not recommended for everyone, Andre Miller discovered a method to reduce anxiety without a prescription:
Two weeks with a 3-year-old boy.
While waiting 15 days to find out where he would play basketball this season, Miller turned the minutes into hours by spending time with his son Duane.
"That took away a lot of stress," Miller said Friday as he was introduced as the Denver Nuggets' new point guard.
"Once I got the message of becoming a Denver Nugget, he had to go home. I'm just happy to get this over with and move on."
Because Miller was a restricted free agent, his former team, the Los Angeles Clippers, had two weeks to match Denver's six-year, $51 million contract offer. The wait officially ended at 10 p.m. Thursday.
"I tried not to think about it," Miller said. "When you read the papers and see the news, you wonder where you're going to end up. Denver was a great attraction for me. I'm glad the Clippers didn't match. I come to a new team with a greater plan and determination on winning."
That plan now includes Earl Boykins, another point guard who has agreed to a five-year contract believed to be worth between $12 million and $13.5 million.
Nuggets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe said Boykins has to pass a physical before the deal becomes official.
"I didn't even know he was considering Denver," Miller said of Boykins, his former teammate with the Cleveland Cavaliers. "He's a competitor. He's quick and he tries to make things happen once he's out there. I'm looking forward to being around him."
With Miller as the starter and Boykins coming off the bench, the Nuggets have a chance to play an up-tempo game that has been missing since Paul Westhead was coach from 1990-92.
While Westhead went overboard with his shoot-within-5-seconds philosophy, Miller brings a poised approach to a fast break that will include go-go forwards Carmelo Anthony and Nene.
"He's a push-and-go guy like (John) Stockton was a push-and-go guy," said Rick Majerus, Miller's coach at the University of Utah. "He doesn't get out of control. All Carmelo and Nene and those guys have to do is run. He'll get it to them."
Ryan Bowen, another forward whose only speed is fast-forward, said he is looking forward to playing with Miller, who led the league in assists for Cleveland two seasons ago.
"He's going to be a great fit, especially if he can have the type of year he had in Cleveland," Bowen said.
"I hope we play an up-tempo game where we really run. That was the plan last year, but considering our personnel, we just couldn't do that."
Miller is familiar with plans that go awry.
After being traded from Cleveland to Los Angeles last July, he never got comfortable with the Clippers. His scoring average dropped from 16.5 points to 13.6; his assist average fell from 10.9 to 6.7; and his shooting percentage plummeted from .454 to .406.
"Last season is gone. I've forgotten about it," he said. "You can't dwell on the past too much because it will affect your upcoming year. I pretty much have thrown those things to the side and look forward to getting better."
Drafted by Cleveland with the eighth overall pick in 1999 and then traded to Los Angeles, Miller never had been able to choose his own destiny.
He kept his options open by not signing a long-term extension after moving to Los Angeles.
"Let's have a courtship before you have a marriage," Miller's agent Lon Babby said. "The courtship didn't work out. The maturation that comes from going through a season like that probably helped him.
"Now he's finally in a place where he's chosen. That's the big thing for a player."
Miller also considered the Utah Jazz before signing a lucrative offer sheet with Denver. He received a $10 million signing bonus and another $4.5 million is due Oct. 15 as part of a front-loaded deal that was designed to discourage the Clippers. With incentives, the contract could be worth more than $55 million.
Three-year-old son or no, that should help Miller reduce his stress.
ON GUARD: Having filled his point-guard quota, Vandeweghe is looking to add a proven shooter. To that end, he spoke to Steve Smith, a career .441 shooter who has averaged 15.5 points in 12 NBA seasons.
"It's going to be a judgment call on Steve's behalf on what he wants to do and how many minutes he thinks he can play," Vandeweghe said.
The Nuggets also are courting guard Stephen Jackson, who flew from Denver to Salt Lake City on Friday. Utah has about $20 million to spend.
In-house shooting guard candidate Predrag Savovic might be out of the race. Denver is expected to waive him before his contract becomes guaranteed Aug. 4.
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