In an ideal world, the Miami Heat would like to keep Mike Miller around, because if he does bounce back from last season’s injuries and this summer’s surgeries, he is a perfect fit. He can stretch the floor with his shot, is a solid team defender and can rebound.
But alas, the math of the new NBA collective bargaining agreement likely sends him packing as one of the early amnesty casualties.
Miller has four years, $23.6 million left on his deal and that likely will be too rich for the Heat’s blood, reports Brian Windhorst at ESPN. The reason is the Heat need to free up some salary room because they want to use their mid-level exception to bring in a defensive center.
In layman’s terms, it means that if the Heat use the mid-level exception they cannot spend over $74.3 million this season. In effect, this is a hard salary cap even though neither the union nor the league sold it that way. Simply, the Heat need to add some free agents and they can’t keep themselves under that threshold with Miller’s $5.4 million on their books.
Once the Heat sign rookie point guard Norris Cole, their payroll will be about $67 million… That gives them a roughly $7 million window to spend on the rest of the team if they use their mid-level exception. They probably just can’t get there.
It shakes out like this — the Heat need a big man in the middle and the likely target is Samuel Dalembert (Nene and Tyson Chandler are too expensive). If they keep Miller they can only offer the tax-payers mid-level of $3 million, but without Miller they can offer the full mid-level at $5 million. Already that is below what Dalembert will get offered somewhere else (almost certainly) but he might take it for the chance to get a ring. Pat Riley is good at selling those kinds of things. Nobody is selling Dalembert on $3 million.
(And for the record, Dalembert is a huge upgrade over Joel Anthony. Better rebounder, much better on offense, defends the rim just about as well.)
But it’s going to take the full MLE — and no Miller — to make that happen. So even though the Heat can keep him around….