How the Miami Heat said thank you. (Image via South Florida Sun-Sentinel)The Miami Heat waived Mike Miller on Tuesday, taking advantage of the amnesty provision in the NBA's 2011 collective bargaining agreement to shed the two years and $12.8 million remaining on Miller's contract. While the move made plenty of financial sense, knocking an estimated $15 million to $17 million off the luxury tax bill Heat owner Micky Arison will have to pay the league next summer without sacrificing a major rotation piece, it also meant saying goodbye to a respected professional and well-liked teammate who had authored big performances at critical stages of Miami's back-to-back title runs.
You miss guys like that when they go, and the Heat brass took no great pleasure in jettisoning Miller. They chose to show as much two days after waiving Miller, buying full-page advertisements in South Florida's newspapers to thank the 33-year-old shooter for his contributions.
The ad — which you can see at right, thanks to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — thanks Miller for "letting it fly" during his three seasons with the team, referring to Miller's long-range marksmanship (41.2 percent from 3-point range as a member of the Heat), the green light Miami's shooters always have in coach Erik Spoelstra's system and, of course, Miller's own energy drink.
"You are a champion both on and off the court," the ad reads. "It is an honor to have you as a part of our Miami Heat family forever."
In the team statement announcing the amnesty, Heat president Pat Riley called Miller "one of the best we have ever had here, and [someone who] will be sorely missed." Chris Bosh echoed that sentiment during a telephone interview with Craig Davis of the Sun Sentinel conducted while the forward/center took part in an NBA-sponsored tour of India:
“We can’t find a replica of Mike Miller. All we can do is just hope to make up the ground that we’ve lost. Our challenge has started already, pretty much, because we’ve lost a significant part of our team.” [...]
“I think everybody knows what a big-time player he is and what he did not only in both Finals but in the playoffs and the regular season,” Bosh said. “His sportsmanship and his clutch shooting — he’s one of the best shooters in the world. He bailed us out of a lot of situations. He made a lot of big shots. It’s going to be tough without him.
“I wish it wasn’t this way. But the business of the NBA is tough sometimes.”
It is, although it's worth noting that it could be tougher — from the Heat's perspective, they'll still return the top nine contributors from their 2012-13 title team, and from Miller's, he'll still get most of the $12.8 million Miami owes him. (There's a kind-of complicated formula that determines how much of a price break teams that have used their amnesties get when the players they've waived sign with another team; I wrote about it here.)
Plus, Miller will be able to join another team and continue plying his trade. Yahoo! Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Cleveland Cavaliers might be considering making a waiver claim on Miller, but if they don't, and if Miller clears waivers, a pair of Western Conference contenders (the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder) are reportedly interested in his services. Not bad for a guy who's missed nearly 40 percent of his team's games over the last three regular seasons.
Still, regardless of the financial outlook for Miller, he told the Sun-Sentinel's Ira Winderman that he'll miss heading into work and seeing the guys with whom he's spent the last three years:
"Our team, what we put together three years ago, was unbelievable players. But the people, the guys in the locker room, have been great. There's stuff you're just going to miss. You're going to miss walking out that tunnel with these guys, collecting that ring next year with these guys. Those are tough things. Those are things you'll definitely miss."
Well, now Mike knows they'll miss him, too.
Hat-tip to SLAM.