Heat G Mike Miller hopes to avoid back surgery

Mike Miller believes his balky back can improve without surgery,

and he’s planning to help the NBA champion Miami Heat defend their

crown next season.

Miller limped through much of this past season, his back pain so

severe at times that he couldn’t even sit on the Heat bench during

games. He has been consulting with Miami neurosurgeon Dr. Barth

Green throughout this offseason, and the expectation now is that a

combination of rest and rehabilitation should be enough to get him

ready to play again.

”No retirement,” Miller said Tuesday.

Miller made an appearance for about 600 children at a basketball

camp he sponsored, walking in to roars from the kids and chants of

his last name. And when told that Hialeah, a city just north of

Miami, believes it was the epicenter of the biggest party to

celebrate the Heat championship, Miller tipped his hand as to his

future plans.

”Then let’s party again next year,” Miller said.

Miller was 7 for 8 from 3-point range in Game 5 of the NBA

Finals against Oklahoma City, helping the Heat clinch the

franchise’s second championship.

Miller has three years remaining on his contract with the Heat,

but considered retiring after two injury-filled seasons in Miami.

An array of thumb, wrist and shoulder injuries plagued him in the

2010-11 season, and this past year was marred as well, first by

offseason hernia surgery, the issue with a disc in his back, and a

sprained ankle.

If back surgery was needed, Miller might have been sidelined for

months and said that would have prompted him to lean toward

retirement.

”The plan is to avoid surgery,” Miller said. ”We’re doing

everything we can. The doctor says it looks fantastic. So we’re

going to continue to go in that direction, continue to rehab it,

see how it goes.”

Miller is scheduled to visit Green again Wednesday to discuss

more rehab plans. Green is widely considered one of the world’s top

surgeons, and Miller said it was somewhat frightening to have to

see him and essentially decide his basketball future.

”I was nervous. There’s no question about it,” Miller said.

”But you know what? People that are the best at what they do also

know how to do alternatives and what it takes to prevent having

surgery. That’s what I liked about him from the get-go. Even though

he’s known for being the best as a surgeon, he was trying to avoid

it, which is a credit to him.”

Miller wants to be ready for training camp, though he suggested

that if his body isn’t ready by then, he will not force the

issue.

Adding two other shooters in Ray Allen – the NBA’s all-time

leader in 3-pointers made – and Rashard Lewis certainly figures to

make life a bit easier for Miller, if for no other reason than the

Heat should have plenty of options from the outside. Miller said he

couldn’t believe that Heat President Pat Riley, managing general

partner Micky Arison and CEO Nick Arison managed to get Allen and

Lewis to sign relatively low-number contracts with the Heat.

”You’re not just adding two more shooters, you’re adding the

best shooter of all time when it comes to makes, and then Rashard

Lewis is right up there, too,” Miller said. ”The Arison family

and Pat continue to do an unbelievable job. … This is a special

organization to be a part of. It starts from the top and goes down

and whenever you’ve got players who take less money that means

you’re doing something right.”

Miller made 45 percent of his attempts from 3-point range this

season, averaging 6.1 points in 39 games. It’s been a whirlwind

summer – ”everything changes as a champion,” Miller said – with

promotional appearances and plans to be involved in the release of

an energy drink called Let It Fly on Aug. 10, but he’s sounding

confident in the plan to be able to play again.

”Rest is the whole thing,” Miller said. ”The inflammation

gets out of there, the pain goes down, now it’s about strengthening

it and sustaining.”

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