Five years and three teams later, Mike Miller is taking his talents back to Memphis. According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, the veteran swingman has agreed to a contract with the Grizzlies:
The Miami Heat used their amnesty provision on the 33-year-old on July 16, ending his three-year run with the defending champs. Signed in the summer of 2010 to be the fourth cog alongside the team's Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, the contract of the oft-injured Miller simply became too expensive.
By taking the veteran marksman off the books, Miami saves about $17 million in luxury tax penalties for next season alone. While some of those savings will be offset by Miller's salary—the Heat still have to pay the two years and $12.8 remaining on his deal—the salary cap flexibility was too much for team president and de facto GM Pat Riley to turn down.
What the defending champs lost, however, is Memphis' gain—especially if the Grizzlies make an extended run through the postseason.
Miller never came close to living up to his five-year, $29 million contract during the regular season with Miami. He missed 91 games over three seasons with various ailments, never averaged more than 6.1 points per game and was an average, albeit energetic, defender.
Come playoff time, though, Miller more than earned his keep. Stationed almost exclusively on the wings and beyond the arc, he became something of an NBA Finals hero.
His seven three-pointers in Miami's Game 5 clincher versus Oklahoma City in 2012 set a record for a reserve player. Out of the rotation and all but a forgotten man a year later, Miller again proved his worth against the San Antonio Spurs, knocking down an astounding 61 percent of his shots from deep in this year's Finals.
On the way to their second straight Larry O'Brien Trophy, the Heat outscored their opponents by 11.5 points per 100 possessions when Miller was on the floor.
The figures are less becoming over the regular season's 82-game sample size, but Miller—a hardworking teammate and a respect locker-room presence—won't have any trouble fitting in with the Grizzlies.
Like he was in Miami, Miller will almost certainly be slotted on the bench and be used on a limited basis. Injuries to his back have aged Miller in dog years, to the point where anything past 15-to-20 minutes a night leads to diminishing returns.
Miller was playing through so much pain in Miami that he even contemplated retiring after the 2011-12 season. But with retirement out of the question—and Miller back in relatively good health—Memphis may have found itself a strong rotational piece.
In an alternative universe, it's unlikely that Miami wins both of its titles without Miller. Now, he'll get to see if he can play a part in preventing a three-peat in South Beach.