So much for the Miami Heat not making Mike Miller an amnesty victim.
Heat president Pat Riley had told reporters on a conference call Friday that, “Right now, we’re not using the amnesty, no.”
Four days later, the Heat on Tuesday let the guard go with the one-time roster maneuver.
Miller, 33, was due to make $12.8 million over the next two seasons. The Heat, who signed him to a five-year deal in 2010, still will have to pay that money but are expected to save around $17 million in luxury tax next season as a more punitive tax enters the NBA. They are projected to save even more on tax in 2014-15.
“After many discussions internally and a sincere effort to explore the trade market, we made a very difficult decision to use our amnesty provision on Mike Miller,” Riley said in a statement. “Mike had an incredible impact on the Miami Heat, helping us to three Finals appearances and winning back-to-back world championships. This was a very difficult decision for me personally, the Arison family, Erik (Spoelstra, Miami’s coach) and the entire Miami Heat organization. Mike was one of the best we have ever had here and will be sorely missed. We wish Mike, his wife, Jennifer, and their family nothing but the best.”
Even though he was healthy last season after having back problems in 2011-12, Miller averaged just 4.8 points and 15.3 minutes in 59 games on a deep roster. But the sharpshooting Miller played a bigger role in the playoffs, including starting the final four games of Miami’s seven-game Finals win against San Antonio.
“I understand the business side of basketball,” Miller, who most famously scored 23 points on 7 of 8 3-point shooting in the clinching Game 5 of the 2012 NBA Finals against Oklahoma City, told The Associated Press. “It’s a combination of being very, very thankful for the opportunity that I’ve had, but it hurts that we had a chance to do something very, very special and I’d love to have been a part of it.”
Riley had told reporters June 26 he didn’t want to let Miller go and would do so only if he got a “mandate” from ownership.
“Mike is as healthy as he’s ever been, and he’s worked very hard in strengthening his back,” Riley had said at the time. “So unless I get a mandate about (making Miller an amnesty victim), we have’t talked about it. … We just want to keep this team together.”
If the Heat wanted to use the amnesty clause this year, they had to do so by midnight Tuesday. It remains to be seen how this could affect the remainder of the Heat’s summer.
Miami has the $3.183 million taxpayer midlevel exception available and is looking at the possibility of signing free-agent center Greg Oden, who hasn’t played in an NBA game since November 2009 due to knee problems. However, Oden’s agent, Mike Conley Sr., told FOX Sports Florida it likely will be a few weeks before Oden picks a team. Interested suitors must continue to sift through medical records.
“I would think that from their end, it helps,” Conley said about the chances improving of the Heat landing Oden after saving money with Miller’s release.
Oden remains very interested in the Heat, but Conley wouldn’t go so far as to say they are the frontrunner. Other teams in the mix include San Antonio, Dallas, New Orleans and Sacramento.
Conley said he has had continued dealings since last weekend with Riley.
“We’ve texted back and forth,” the agent said. “I’ve also talked to Andy (Elisburg, a Miami executive and the team’s salary-cap expert).”
The Heat now have 12 players with guaranteed contracts for next season, and big man Jarvis Varnado has a non-guaranteed deal.
Teams will have a shot to bid for Miller in a waivers process. If he goes unclaimed, he will become an unrestricted free agent. However, the Heat can’t re-sign Miller for at least a year.