Mike Miller wont be letting it fly for the Heat next season.
The two-time defending NBA champions are using the collective bargaining agreements one-time amnesty clause to waive Miller and cut his contract from its books, the Miami Herald learned Tuesday morning. The move allows the Heat to avoid about $17 million in luxury tax.
The Heat informed Millers agent Monday night that the team would be using amnesty, according to a source. Its hard to believe that a championship team would release a player who shot 61.1 percent from three-point range in the 2013 NBA Finals, but thats the reality of the NBA under the new collective-bargaining agreement, which seemingly was designed to prevent dynasties and financially level the leagues playing field.
I assumed [amnesty] when you started looking at numbers and stuff like that, Miller said. It was going to require a big hit financially to keep it all together but me leaving is not going to ruin the train or momentum of this team.
That remains to be seen. The Heat will be hard-pressed to replace Millers bench presence, versatility and, most importantly, his clutch shooting in the postseason. His close relationship with teammates also cannot be overstated. In releasing Miller, the Heat has gotten worse, and not better, with one of its offseason moves for the first time since 2010.
Ive had so many great memories Game 5 [2012 Finals] and Game 6 [2013 Finals] the couple times when I came back from injury and the way the crowd reacted, that was special, Miller said. Its hard for me to be sour with all the great memories that I made. A lot of my NBA memories are now with the Heat.
Miller will be paid the remainder of his contract ($12.8 million for the next two seasons) either entirely by the Heat or partially by the Heat and the team that picks him up on waivers. If Miller clears waivers unclaimed and becomes a free agent, he would have the potential to earn two paychecks for the next two seasons, although teams over the salary cap can only offer Miller a veterans minimum contract.
My body feels better now than it has in a long time, said Miller, who started his offseason training last week and wants to again play for a contender. Its like the Pringles theory. Once you get that taste, youve got to have more.
The decision to release Miller, a fan favorite and hero of Game 5 of the 2012 NBA Finals, was a difficult one for the Heat, which has done well this offseason to keep its championship team mostly intact. Last week, Heat president Pat Riley said the decision to keep or release Miller would be made Monday during a meeting with team owner Micky Arison, CEO Nick Arison and senior vice president/assistant general manager Andy Elisburg.
In a conference call with reporters Friday, Riley said Miller was healthier at the end of the 2013 playoffs than he had been during his entire stint with the Heat. Still, with a surplus of veteran shooters on its roster, Millers contract for next season ($6.2 million) pushed the Heats payroll deep into the luxury tax. Before releasing Miller, the Heat was staring at a potential luxury-tax bill after next season of more than $30 million. Luxury tax alone on Millers contract would have cost the Heat about $17 million.