In the event that Trail Blazers point guard Andre Miller becomes a casualty of the Feb. 24 NBA trade deadline, there's something that needs to be said.

It's this: Thank you, Dre.

Count me among those who have come to appreciate Miller's wonderful court vision and unselfishness, quiet leadership. He's a professional in a league that doesn't have enough of them. And while it took me a fair amount of time to understand Miller (in part because he doesn't care to be understood), if he's traded he leaves respected.

Miller turns 35 next month. The Blazers are his fifth NBA team. His three-year, $21 million contract includes an attractive June 29 team option that makes the final year of the deal non-guaranteed. So Miller understands the business of basketball well enough to tell you that he's not fretting about what will happen.

Portland wants to get younger at center and point guard. Miller and Marcus Camby, 37 years old in March, don't feel like part of the long-term plan. And while I believe Miller has to be traded before the final year of his contract for Portland to maximize their return, I write this sentence with great trepidation.

I don't think they can replace what Miller does for them.

An Eastern Conference executive said the marriage of Miller and Portland, "It's a quandary for the Blazers because he can still play, but he gets less liquid every day."

This is a player who will pass Bob Cousy on the NBA's all-time assist list before the end of this season. He's a guy who played in 632 consecutive games and we'd still be counting if it weren't for an absurd one-game suspension after Miller shoved Blake Griffin (the shove was not even called as a foul in the game).

Through the first week of February, Portland led the NBA in alley-oop baskets. If you want to measure the mark of great court instincts, watch Miller as he eyes teammate LaMarcus Aldridge, and flicks a pass to the basket that results in an easy bucket.

Said Aldridge, who leads the NBA with 68 dunks off alley-oop passes: "Dre's good. Definitely makes me better. I don't think people know how smart he is.