The Miami Heat has taken another major step forward in its attempt to build out its championship-caliber roster, agreeing in principle to a five-year contract worth an estimated $30 million with Washington Wizards free agent swingman Mike Miller.
Miller is considered a vital part of Miami’s offseason plan, which of course started with the re-signing of Dwyane Wade and the additions of LeBron James — Miller’s close friend — and Chris Bosh. James said he wanted Miller to play with him, even talking the former Florida Gator into passing up higher-paying deals for a chance to sign with Miami.
Miller, 30, is one of only two NBA players (Steve Nash) who shot better than 50% from the field, 40% from beyond the three-point line and 80% from the free throw line, while averaging at least 30 minutes of playing time, this past season. He made 48% of his 3-pointers last season for Washington, second-best in the NBA behind Kyle Korver.
Miller has quietly developed into one of the most versatile and efficient offensive players in the game today. He is a multi-faceted offense threat: he can shoot, he can drive, he can pass and he can rebound. He often plays more than one position during the course of a game, including a point-forward type role in some stretches.
Miller, perhaps the game’s ultimate floor-spacing wing player, figures to get big minutes alongside Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and an as-yet undetermined fifth player. The logical candidates for the fifth spot would be either center Joel Anthony or center Zydrunas Ilguaskas. But if the Heat elect for a small-ball approach, more exciting alternatives could avail themselves, whereby Bosh slides over to center, James to power forward, with Miller at his natural small forward position, Wade at his natural shooting guard position and a yet to be determined point guard. That could produce some of the greatest offensive basketball this game has ever seen.
Wade and James need little else beyond just the floor space with which to maneuver. Miller and Bosh could provide them just that. Simply by camping out along the perimeter, these players present their defenders with the following dilemma: should they sag into the paint and prevent Wade or James’ penetration and risk a kickout, or should they stick to their men and leave the driving player unattended?
That’s a tricky proposition made nearly impossible by the fact that James and Wade are perhaps the two best finishers at the rim in the game, and Miller and Bosh are two of the best perimeter jump shooters in the league.
Miller now becomes the fourth Heat player who has taken fewer total dollars in exchange for the prospect of winning multiple NBA titles. He was reportedly seeking a full five-year contract valued above the mid-level exception. The mid-level exception itself starts out at $5.8 million, and pays out $33 million over five years. The 6’8″ ten-year veteran was being courted by several teams, including the Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks, each of which stood to offer him substantially more money.
A five-year, $30 million offer to Miller implies a starting salary of roughly $5 million. That, in turn, would imply that James, Wade and Bosh have agreed to split as much as $47 million in first year salary amongst themselves, an average of $15.6 million per player. That’s about $1 million less than the $16.6 million maximum salary to which each was entitled.