The rumors of Mike Miller's demise have been greatly exaggerated. The Miami Heat forward said Tuesday that he will not retire this summer, contrary to reports that he was considering it. Though he said the thought of retirement has "crossed my mind," Miller still thinks he can play at a high level.
In fact, Miller is so not retiring that he may not even need back surgery over the offseason, which qualifies as a miracle considering the grimaces of pain on his face that reappeared throughout the Heat's Finals run.
"The plan is to avoid surgery," Miller told the Miami Herald. "We're doing everything we can. I fully intend on being ready for training camp."
The Herald reported that Miller's surgeon shares his optimism. "People who are the best at what they do also know how to do alternatives and what it takes to prevent having surgery," Miller said.
There is a downside to not having surgery now. "The problem with not having surgery is it doesn't go away," Miller said. Still, "If I didn’t believe I can play, I wouldn't have come back." Miller did say that if he did need surgery he would have probably retired.
Miller's return gives the Heat five wing players who have shot over 38% from three-point range for their career (in addition to James Jones, Ray Allen, Shane Battier and Rashard Lewis). The Heat are in a position to play multiple lineups that feature the Big Three with a pair of fantastic three-point shooters who can space the floor and hit catch-and-shoot threes on command.
Miller knows this lineup could mean fewer minutes for him. "Minutes are always hard on this team. That's what makes it good and competitive," he said. "You're not just adding two more shooters. You're adding the best shooter of all time when it comes to makes, and Rashard Lewis is right up there, too."
Miller's performance during Game 5 of the NBA Finals (when he hit 7 three-pointers and helped the Heat clinch a title), reminded everyone why Pat Riley lured him to Miami in 2010 with a five-year, $25 million contract.
Riley revealed just how much he wanted Miller to stay when he related an anecdote about former Heat guard Dan Majerle. Riley held Majerle out of practice for an entire year so as to not aggravate a back injury, and started him every game that season. "There are ways to maintain guys that have had a number of injuries," Riley said.
For now, Miller will take another two months of rest and rehab. Since the Finals ended last month, Miller's condition has improved "a ton."