Jul 19, 2013, 10:44 PM EDT
Mike Miller, who just cleared waivers after being amnestied by the Heat, becoming an unrestricted free agent, will have no shortage of contending suitors. Smart front offices – the type of front offices that can build a winning team that would entice Miller – recognize his value as a 3-point shooter, both because long-distance field goals space the floor and offer a 50 percent boost in value over other baskets.
Apparently, Miller is zeroing in on one of those contenders. Ken Berger of CBS Sports:
Mike Miller, who cleared amnesty waivers and is a free agent, is telling friends he's likely to sign with OKC, league source says.—
Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) July 18, 2013
This would be a huge boon to the Thunder, who traded James Harden for Kevin Martin in order to save money. Then, Martin left for Minnesota as a free agent, because Oklahoma City wasn’t willing to pay the salary necessary to keep him. There was a report Oklahoma City would pursue Dorell Wright, but he signed with the Trail Blazers.
Miller won’t be the premier bench scorer Harden and, to a lesser degree, Martin, were, but the former Heat forward would be a low-cost and viable replacement. A team with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook can always use spot-up 3-point shooters, which is why the Heat wanted Miller to play with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
Money led Miami to amnesty Miller, and money led the Thunder to downgrade their bench. But Miller – who will still be paid $12.8 million minus a potential setoff by the Heat – might come at just the right price for Oklahoma City now. Even though the Thunder just received a financial bailout from the rest of the league, their luxury-tax situation remains unchanged, and that doesn’t live room for a high-priced addition.
Before Westbrook got hurt in the playoffs, Oklahoma City played like the NBA’s second-best team throughout the season behind the Heat. The loss of Martin hurts, and other contenders have upgraded, but the Thunder were substantially younger than Miami, so Oklahoma City’s championship window is wide open.
Miller could be the piece – the off-the-bench shooter – who didn’t seem available for the right price a few days ago, but who could make all the difference next June.
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