Wizards (8-32) at Kings (10-32)
Scoring: Kings 14th (98.6), Wizards 26th (94.2).
Shooting: Kings tied for 22nd (44.5 percent), Wizards tied for 22nd (44.5).
Scoring defense: Kings 29th (107.6), Wizards 20th (100.9).
Shooting defense: Kings 28th (47.7 percent), Wizards 27th (47.6).
Rebound differential: Kings 28th (minus-3.4), Wizards 25th (minus-2.3).
The links: Wizards coverage in the Washington Post and Washington Times.
The almanac: On this date in 1958, Bob Pettit of the St. Louis Hawks had 28 points and 26 rebounds to become the first player named MVP of the All-Star Game from a losing team. On this date in 1991, Dick Motta of the Kings coached his 1,648th regular-season game, at the time a league record. On this date in 1994, the SuperSonics beat the Mavericks 91-87 for Dallas' 19th consecutive home loss, a record.
Miller in November: 14 games, 34.9 minutes, 46 percent shooting, 12.4 points, 7.9 rebounds.
Miller in December: 13 games, 27.6 minutes, 47.1 percent, 10.7 points, 7.2 rebounds.
Miller in January: 10 games, 34.7 minutes, 50 percent, 14.1 points, 10.3 rebounds.
A steady increase in shooting and a spike in scoring and rebounding. He is playing his best as the Feb. 19 trade deadline approaches, perfect timing for the Kings, needing this center as opposed to the early-season center in hopes of driving up the price for Miller. Probably good timing for Miller as well, given the signals that he has only occasional interest in being here.
The Kings aren't close to a fire sale for Miller -- if there's no deal to their liking before Feb. 19, his value will only increase, barring a major injury, starting July 1 and heading into next season as an expiring contract. A starting center in the final season of his deal is a huge trade chip.
Which brings everything back to Petrie, his famous patience and the calendar.
His willingness to a deal is not in question. It's the timing with Miller more than any other commodity that makes it particularly interesting, because Miller finally has a 2008-09 body of work the Kings don't have to hide from interested buyers and because there's no way of knowing how long the good times will last. A double-double the past 10 games is the best advertising Sacramento could have bought to entice playoff teams considering late additions as part of the hoped-for push to June, but there is also his shoulder-shrug of a Tuesday night in Denver.
Petrie knows the value of waiting. He always knows the value of waiting, and any good personnel boss knows that a sense of timing can be as important as cap management or evaluating draft prospects.
Strike now as the numbers trend upward ... or wait another three weeks for Feb. 19 to get real close and hope some suitor increases the offer in a deadline-induced panic ... or wait for the offseason and the possibility/probability the bidding will remain strong for a playoff-tested center who can pass and shoot and will be heading into the last months of his deal? All with the chance that Miller could regress to November status?
It's a great blinking contest.
Petrie waited and waited to trade Ron Artest and did as well as can be expected for The Baggaged One: the Rockets' pick from late in the first round in 2008 (Donte Greene), a pick that figures to be late in the first round in 2009 and the expiring contract of Bobby Jackson. Petrie waited a little to deal Mike Bibby and did pretty well: expiring contracts, the loose change of a second-round pick in '08 and a season-and-a-half test drive of former lottery selection Shelden Williams, all for a player with a tough contract to move and in the second consecutive season of shooting struggles. Petrie didn't wait to swap Peja Stojakovic and ended up in a bad place: Artest.
I'll say it again: Great blinking contest. A great game of chicken.