Lakers (17-2) at Kings (5-16)
Scoring: Kings 20th (97.1), Lakers first (108.4).
Shooting: Kings ninth (46 percent), Lakers fourth (47.6).
Scoring defense: Kings 28th (105.7), Lakers 12th (96.2).
Shooting defense: Kings tied for 29th (48.2 percent), Lakers fifth (43).
Rebound differential: Kings 20th (minus-1.5), Lakers fourth (plus-4.5)
The links: Lakers coverage in the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Register and Los Angeles Daily News.
The almanac: On this date in 1988, Jerry Sloan became Jazz coach following the resignation of Frank Layden. On this date in 1993, Kevin Johnson of the Suns became the 13th player to record 10 steals in a game. On this date in 1997, Michael Jordan of the Bulls passed Moses Malone to become the third-leading scorer in league history.
Obviously a bad cell connection somewhere. Geoff Petrie is not one of those flip-flopping personnel bosses who plays games and aggravates peers with an inability/refusal to deal directly. He is well regarded as someone as straightforward behind the scenes as in public.
But let's say Miller has to become available eventually, if he isn't already. Just has to be. The season is going nowhere fast, Miller isn't part of the next generation, Spencer Hawes has quickly developed into a worthy successor at center, and Mikki Moore (for his defense) or Jason Thompson (for his offense, for his potential to get the job one day anyway) could replace Hawes at power forward.
When the time comes, the Kings apparently will be met by underwhelming offers. Reps of four teams agree. No miscommunication there.
The problem: Miller is credible -- 11.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, 45.2 percent from the field, experienced in the playoffs in another appeal to the clubs that would be most interested -- but he's on the books for $11.375 million this season and $12.25 mil next. A big salary for anyone, huge for someone who would be acquired as a complementary piece. Plus, he's 32.
The assessment on the return the Kings could expect:
A top executive: "It'll be interesting. For his age, he's a highly paid player now. He's been a very good player in the league. He could still help teams. But that's a big contract to take on. If they do trade him, I don't think they're going to get a heck of a lot for him. But he's still an effective player."
A top executive: "Cap relief. You might get one young player, a couple picks. A pick, maybe. It's not like he's an All-Star. And it's not like he's going to help every team. But he'd be great to have in the right kind of offense."
A veteran scout, speaking to the Miller market more than the personnel decision itself: "The easy way to approach it is, look at the draft every year. Big guys always go. You'd be getting a big guy who has proven he can play, proven he can shoot, proven he can pick-and-pop. Who doesn't want a skilled big man? Those guys are hard to find."
A top executive: "I wouldn't think he would bring a lot. All of the sudden, people will start talking scenarios - maybe he would be a difference maker on a team vying for a championship. I don't know if he's that or not. ... I don't know if you get a couple young pieces and a pick. Maybe a couple young pieces."
Miller a year from now would have the added attraction of being an expiring contract, making the $12.25 million more palatable. Of course, he also could be playing worse and have less appeal in that way. So goes the uncertainty.