Mike Miller Amnestied by Miami Heat
UPDATE: Thursday, July 18, at 5:11 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford
ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported the latest on Miller's status:
Mike Miller cleared amnesty waivers & is a free agent. Spurs, Thunder, Grizzlies & Rockets among teams with interest in signing him.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) July 18, 2013
---End of update---
UPDATE: Tuesday, July 16, at 4:30 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford
Mike Miller offered his appreciation to the Heat organization following his release:
I want thank the Heat organization, my teammates and the fans for an amazing run #TrulyBlessed— Mike Miller (@m33m) July 16, 2013
---End of update---
According to Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald, on Monday night the Miami Heat informed Arn Tellem, Miller's agent, that they will use their amnesty provision on the 33-year-old forward:
Mike Miler's agent was informed Monday night that the Heat will be using the amnesty clause on Miller, the Miami Herald has learned.— Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) July 16, 2013
The team later officially announced the move via its Twitter feed:
OFFICIAL: The @MiamiHEAT have waived Mike Miller per the NBA's Amnesty provision.— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) July 16, 2013
Heat owner Micky Arison also reached out via Twitter, thanking Miller for his time in South Beach:
The NBA's amnesty period runs from July 11 through July 17, meaning the Heat had until the close of the business day Wednesday to inform the league office of its decision.
Miller's rights will now be subject to a 48-hour waivers process, during which teams under the league's salary cap can bid for his services.
Is this the right move by Miami?
The bid price would absolve the Heat of paying that amount of his remaining salary. The Heat are currently slated to pay the two years and $12.8 million remaining on the five-year, $29 million deal they signed with Miller in the summer of 2010—ostensibly to become the vital fourth cog in Miami's Big Three project.
If no team makes a claim on Miller, he will become an unrestricted free agent. If and when Miller signs with another franchise, Miami will still be subject to paying a majority of his salary, set at an offsetting formula that is equal to half of the difference between a player's new salary—whatever Miller agrees to with another franchise—and a minimum-salaried contract, per Larry Coon.
Miller cannot return to the Heat under any circumstances—via free agency or trade—until after the 2014-15 season, when his contract was due to expire, per Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel:
Miller now cannot return to Heat until after 2014-15 season, under any condition. It also means Heat cannot amnesty any other player.— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) July 16, 2013
While ostensibly brought in to bring spacing and three-point shooting to Miami's star-studded roster, Miller's time with the Heat was fraught with injury. He missed at least 23 games in each of his three seasons with the Heat, failing to appear in 91 games total. Miller's play suffered mightily as a result, as his role saw massive fluctuation amid new blood being injected into Miami's lineup.
Back problems hampered Miller to such a degree that he even contemplated retirement as the Heat made their first championship run in 2011-12. But as would become the case throughout both of Miami's championship triumphs, Miller's comeback story from being buried on the bench became something of a tradition.
Miller infamously knocked down seven three-pointers and scored 23 points in Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012, a performance that many saw as amnesty-saving.
When Miller saw increased prominence again in Erik Spoelstra's NBA Finals rotation this year against the San Antonio Spurs due to the mighty shooting woes of Shane Battier, it seemed possible that he could do it again. He provided spacing and knocked down clutch threes on the wing, and his intricate knowledge of Miami's helter-skelter defense cannot go understated.
There will be no such luck this time around.
With the NBA's collective bargaining agreement kicking in more punitive luxury-tax penalties—especially for repeat offenders, of which Miami is one—starting this season, management made a frugal decision. As pointed out by ESPN's Brian Windhorst, waiving Miller will save the Heat $17 million in amnesty costs alone, not accounting for a potential replacement:
Arison, however, was facing $33M luxury tax bill & Miller amnesty saves team $17M in taxes. Still owe him $13M in salary over next 2 years.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) July 16, 2013
Miller was well liked in the Miami community and locker room, so the team did not come of this decision lightly. Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press reports the team tried finding a taker via a trade, but came up empty. Reynolds also got a statement from Heat president Pat Riley, who was open about the difficulty the team faced in releasing Miller:
Pat Riley calls the decision "very difficult" to amnesty Miller.— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) July 16, 2013
For his part, Miller was understanding but noted that it was hard not to be hurt by the decision, via Reynolds:
Mike Miller to AP: "I understand. ... Very, very thankful for the opportunity that I've had, but it hurts."— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) July 16, 2013
The Los Angeles Lakers and Toronto Raptors have also used their amnesty provision this summer, on Metta World Peace and Linas Kleiza, respectively (per Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears), which will leave only 12 teams with the provision remaining.
Those teams have until the 2015-16 season to exercise that option.
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