The Heat's decision on whether to use the amnesty provision on Mike Miller isn't an easy one.
Using the amnesty provision on Mike Miller isn't a novel concept: Miami Heat president Pat Riley considered the move last July, and ESPN's Brian Windhorst raised the idea before that in November 2011.
Miami will have to deal with a different type of "Decision" this summer. With increasing payroll obligations and a bump in the luxury tax thanks to the recently enacted collective bargaining agreement, retaining Miller could be an expensive proposition.
Miller is due $12.8 million over the next two seasons, and when you forecast the production that Miami is likely to receive from its 33-year-old swingman over that stretch, the benefits don't appear to outweigh the costs.
There are several pros and cons to exercising the amnesty provision on Miller, and while Miami doesn't appear likely to go down that road, it's safe to assume that the Heat will explore both sides of the argument before making a decision in mid-July.
Teams that exceed the luxury tax threshold no longer have a dollar-for-dollar penalty, so keeping Miller's $12.8 million on the books until 2015 could cost Miami an additional $20 million or more.
The Heat aren't hurting for money—owner Micky Arison used to be CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines—but at some point, it becomes fiscally irresponsible to have a significant amount of salary and penalties tied to a backup such as Miller.
And even though the team may be enamored with Miller, if it could find a younger, cheaper replacement who would provide similar production, Miami would use the amnesty clause without hesitation.
During Miami's playoff run this season, Miller shot 44.4 percent from three-point range. That type of production from downtown won't be easy to replace.
Miller was at his best when the stakes got higher. The 6'8" swingman knocked down more than 61 percent of his three-point attempts during the NBA Finals and was the catalyst in Miami's 113-77 Game 3 victory.
Over the past two postseasons, Miller has shot 42.3 percent from beyond the arc (47-for-111), and his Offensive Rating during the Heat's most recent title run was a sparkling 126.
So while letting Miller walk makes all of the sense in the world financially, it could impact the Heat on the court as well.
Against the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals, Miller did little to prevent Manu Ginobili and others from attacking the basket.
After 13 NBA seasons, Miller doesn't have the lateral movement that he once possessed when he was drafted in 2000. Earlier this week, Riley told Ira Winderman of the South Florida SunSentinel that Miller is as healthy as ever, but Father Time is undefeated, and you can clearly see the toll that 900-plus NBA games have put on Miller's body.
So instead of having to hide Miller by assigning him to the worst wing player, Miami might be better off signing someone else who can contribute on both ends of the floor.
The amnesty provision is a one-shot deal: If Miami uses it on Miller, it won't be able to exercise it on any other eligible player.
All things considered, it may make more sense to amnesty Joel Anthony—who is slated to make a total of $7.6 million over the next two years—either this season or next in order to free up some much-needed cap space.
If the Heat amnesty Anthony this year, they could use the savings to sign a free-agent big man such as the Milwaukee Bucks' Samuel Dalembert to bolster an underwhelming front line.
If Riley and Co. wait until 2014 to amnesty Anthony, that money could go toward signing a shooter. Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Shane Battier and James Jones are all set to be free agents next summer.
Miami is too far over the salary cap to land a big-name free agent, but it can use some of the money saved by amnestying Miller on a veteran who is willing to sign for the league minimum.
With two straight titles and three consecutive trips to the NBA Finals, the Heat don't have to do much convincing for players to bring their talents to South Beach. And though Miami can sign low-priced free agents while retaining Miller, their willingness to do so may be diminished by luxury-tax concerns.
One of the Miami Heat's greatest strengths is that the roster affords head coach Erik Spoelstra a great deal of lineup flexibility.
With Miller's ability to play and start at either the 3 or the really-undersized 4, Miami can go with a number of unique five-man combinations that are hard for opposing teams to defend. And, perhaps most importantly, Miller's ability to stretch the floor opens up driving lanes for both Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.
Using the amnesty provision on Miller will limit the Heat's lineup options going forward, giving them one less advantage over a league that is slowly making headway toward the South Beach dynasty.