It's a cautionary tale. It happens all the time. Teams -- and teammates -- pump up a player and then suddenly, he's gone. And well, he wasn't that significant a piece anyway. That happened with Quincy Miller this summer.
In early June, no less a Piston than Andre Drummond spoke about how much the 6'10" forward had improved
"He's playing really well. He's just been in the gym each and every day, taking his workout seriously, eating well. He's not really slacking off. The coaching staff's excited. I talked to all the weight coaches about him today and they say he comes in here with the mind-set he wants to be a part of this team and really wants to work.
"He's going to be a big part of our team."
A few days later, the Pistons own website picked up on Drummond's comments and suggested that at only 22, he could be a first round equivalent, noting his maturity and that he had gained 17 pounds in the off-season...
If the Pistons could somehow pick up a second first-round pick, down in the teens or the early 20s perhaps, the ideal candidate for a team looking for help on either side of Andre Drummond would be an athletic project who could play either forward spot. A 3-point shooter with plus length and the ability to guard both small forwards and power forwards.
Well, that's Quincy Miller. Maybe.
Then a couple of things happened. In one of those practice sessions, Miller caught an errant elbow and broke some facial bones, eliminating a chance for him to prove himself in Summer League ... and Stan Van Gundy needed some insurance at point guard, worried that they didn't have enough depth with Brandon Jennings status uncertain.
So they traded Miller for Steve Blake. The Nets also got a $2.2 million trade exception out of the deal. All that promise Miller had shown before his unlucky break. Forget it, wrote the Pistons' in-house beat, the same writer who had declared him a first round equivalent. He was nothing more than a trade piece.
The Miller trade has zero to do with the injury he suffered that cost him Summer League. Brooklyn needed a non-guaranteed contract, the Pistons felt they needed protection (again, due to the uncertainty of Jennings’ availability and effectiveness) at a critical position and the teams found a match. Miller was the only non-guaranteed deal the Pistons had to offer.
The Nets reportedly considered waiving Miller --he had a $50,000 guarantee due two days after the trade-- but decided to pay him and give him a chance in training camp. He won't have an easy time making the team, but his chances are better at power forward than small forward. He's bounced around the NBA and D-League. The Nets will be his fourth team in four years, started 16 games three years ago in Denver.
The Nets have said little to nothing about him. In other words, expectations are low. He's been training in Jersey City with a personal trainer and working out in East Rutherford. There's every indication he's training and practicing just as hard as he did in Detroit before the injury.
One thing is certain. If he's still on the roster on October 8, he'll have some extra motivation when the Nets play the Pistons in a preseason game. It could be a good indication of who was right.