Okay, so Mike Miller hasn’t signed with the Thunder yet. But let’s pretend he did. This is what we’d have to say.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have been deafly silent this offseason. If you’re a Thunder fan, they’ve been annoyingly silent. Sam Presti has been under fire since the James Harden trade in October 2012, and he has taken a beating from local sports reporters and fans. Presti made Harden an offer that was, arguably, a dangerous, irresponsible offer. With Durant and Westbrook already signed for their respective max contracts, and Ibaka already signed to a four year near $50 million deal, the offer to Harden would have financially strapped the Thunder, and most certainly would have made them a repeat luxury tax offender. I’m not exactly sure how Presti planned to pay those four guys and field a 15 man roster, but that’s no longer a worry.
The deal that sent the Beard to H-Town, and returned Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, Toronto’s 2013 lottery pick that resulted in picking Steven Adams, almost feels forgotten at this point. Martin left OKC via free agency in favor of signing with Minnesota. Lamb has a tremendous upside, and may end up being a nice player, but no one knows at this point… Not even Presti. Steven Adams is an athletic big man, but he more than likely won’t contribute meaningful minutes for a few seasons. But the Thunder have Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook nearing the early years of their prime. The sky is the limit for 23-year-old Ibaka. Shouldn’t the Thunder brass put this team in a position to win now?
Yes. They should. Unfortunately for us fans (fortunately for Clay Bennett), the bottom line appears to be, not only a factor in the decision making process, but the driving force behind the majority of Sam Presti’s personnel decisions. Presti’s go to phrase is “Sustained Success.” He’ll probably name his first born Sustained Success (Sustained Success Presti has a nice ring to it). So with the Thunder definitely being over the cap in the 2014-2015 season, what is Presti to do? I mean, the majority of the top teams in the West are adding talent. Houston added a gigantic toddler who is good when he wants to be. We fans need something to feel excited about.
Enter sharp shooter Mike Miller. Remember Game 5 of the 2012 NBA Finals? Here’s a refresher: The Heat beat the Thunder 121-106, and Mike Miller shot 7-8 from long range and scored 23 points.
Or how about the time he went 11-18 from 3 point range in the 2013 Finals against the Spurs? His hot shooting streak actually got him a starting role for a few games.
Just when you thought the Thunder weren’t going to make a free agent signing (until the obligatory late season Derrick Fisher signing), the Miami Heat amnesty Miller, dropping a neatly wrapped, seemingly randomly placed tattooed present in the lap of Sam Presti.
First off, the Heat probably overpaid for Miller when they signed him to a 5 year, $29 million deal in 2010. For a healthy, in his prime Mike Miller, it may not have been so bad. But Miller has been plagued by injuries, most notably his back, shoulder and thumb. Owing a brittle, 33-year-old $12.8 million over the next two seasons causing serious luxury tax penalties wasn’t in the cards for Micky Arison.
Miller cleared waivers, and according to Darnell Mayberry, Royce Young, Adrian Wojnarowski, and every other writer with an interest in the NBA, the Thunder signed him to a one year contract worth $1.4 million, which is the veteran minimum. Because Miller signed for the minimum (the Heat will still have topay over $10 million under the amnesty rules to Miller), the Thunder will be reimbursed $515,000 by the NBA, leaving a little less than $900,000 OKC would owe Miller… Which couldn’t have worked out more perfectly. Miller is a liability on defense, but most sharp shooters are lousy defenders at best (Kyle Korver, Matt Bonner, Steve Novak….). Which isn’t a big concern for the Thunder. If anything, they’ve been criticized for their intense defensive focus with a lack of offensive production outside of Durant and Westbrook (mainly Kendrick Perkins). The Thunder bench not only added a career 40.6% three point shooter, but they added a 2 time champion. A role player who knows what it takes to get there, and who can deliver under pressure. And they got him at a bargain. Plus, he won’t be in a Heat, Spurs, Rockets or Warriors uniform next season… Icing on the cake
Thunder fans should be excited about the newest addition to the Thunder roster. Presti will have the ‘don’t question our plan’ face, but in private he’s doing back flips.
A week ago I wasn’t hoping for a Mike Miller three-peat, but you can guarantee I am today.
Featured image from CBS Sports