DENVER - George Karl believes Andre Miller is "still angry" at him. Miller hadn't wanted to leave the Denver Nuggets. Karl hadn't wanted him to leave. But this was the painful reality show that the NBA sometimes can be.
If the Nuggets wanted to acquire Allen Iverson from the 76ers in December 2006, they were going to have to include Miller in the deal. That, of course, is what happened: The Sixers gave up Iverson and Ivan McFarlin for Miller, the expiring contract of Joe Smith and two first-round draft choices.
In the course of the negotiations, Karl recalled, "The only thing I wanted to do was to try to keep Andre [with the Nuggets], because my dream was Andre and A.I. [in the same backcourt]."
"I remembered Eric Snow and A.I. [with the Sixers]," Karl said before last night's 109-96 Denver victory over the Sixers. "Well, Andre is better than Eric Snow."
Karl isn't surprised that Miller is having one of his best seasons.
"Andre's the top passer in basketball," Karl said. "He makes people better . . . he makes things easier for the coach; he makes things easier for his team, and he has just a winning knack to him.
"When there's a close game, the guy figures out how to do something to win the game - a deflection, rebound, post-up - other than his ability to just pass the ball."
Miller, who had 22 points last night, has said the trade was difficult for him because it came during the season.
"You never know why anger comes out, or the reasoning for it," Karl said. "As a coach, you don't want to make a major trade in the middle of a season. It's hard work to change the personalities of a team, but basically we felt we were in a position to make another step in a good direction."
Miller said, "I can't dwell on that. It's part of the business I've accepted. I've always known it's a business. I can't really dwell on the past."
"Andre's real angry at me still for the trade," Karl said. "Andre's been in my life since my son [Coby] was in the eighth grade. I remember when [Miller, at the University of Utah] weighed, like, 235 pounds and [then-coach Rick Majerus] asked me to tell him, 'Hey, you can't play this way; you've got to lose weight.' "
Still, Karl remains hopeful of resuming a relationship with Miller.
"I've been through situations like that, where [after] a year or two sometimes, they come back and you become good friends again," he said. "That would be my hope."
Said Miller: "It was just a business relationship. When I met [Karl], I was 18. Obviously, he has a big reputation in the league as a coach, and he plays the type of ball I like to play. It was a player-coach relationship. That's how I see it."
Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks placed Rodney Carney on the inactive list last night, replacing him with Louis Amundson. "We have a lot of wing guys," Cheeks said. "I wanted another big man." *