On July 16th, 2013 my heart was broken. The Miami Heat had decided to part ways with veteran forward Mike Miller via the amnesty clause. This was done in the most part to relieve almost $13 million dollars worth of luxury tax that the team would of had to face in the upcoming years and with a roster as stacked as this one, parting ways with Miller was not something the Heat were very worried about doing.
With players such as Ray Allen and Shane Battier who come off the bench in big roles it seems like losing Miller really will not make a big difference when it comes to next season. However, I see it differently. I think that losing Mike Miller will not change anything right away, but as the season progresses into the playoffs they will begin to realize what a useful player Miller was even on a team of this caliber.
The first reason that the Heat will miss Mike Miller is that he was no doubt a fan favorite. In a lifeless stadium such as American Airlines Arena, when Miller (among others) got off the bench and into the game he gave off just that pure excitement of playing basketball. He hustled for every lose ball and made every effort to make the biggest difference in the game that he could with the minutes that he was given on any given night. He never complained about minutes and always gave 110% in every game which is why people loved him so much.
Losing a player like this will leave the Heat without a player off the bench that can give all that energy. The Heat have plenty bench players that are great, but other than Shane Battier there are not players that can give their all every night whether it be because of the minutes they play or the fact that they are just aging.
The next reason is that he shows up when he needed too. Mike Miller had his slumps there was no question, but he always seemed to have big moments in big games when it was needed. The two best examples are in both the 2012 and 2013 NBA finals. In Game 5 against the Thunder in 2012, Miller had 7 3-pointers that helped push the team to win their franchise's 2nd Finals. In Game 6 of the NBA Finals this past season, Miller hit his "shoeless" 3-pointer that brought the Heat within 4 points in the final quarter of regulation, and we all know how that whole game ended up playing out. His three was an unnoticed momentum changer for the Heat and without something as small as that in such a close game who knows how it all would have played out.
It is hard in this league to find players who are consistently average night in and night out, work hard no matter what whenever they are put into the game, and have the clutch gene to make big performances when it matters most. It is also hard to find players like that to just come off of the bench with no complaints at all. Mike Miller is that guy. He is a career 40.7% 3-point shooter in the regular season, about a 38% 3-point shooter in the playoffs, and averages about 5 rebounds and 3 assists a game as well.
Even at the age of 33, Mike Miller with his 2 rings and experience will make a difference on any team no matter what. The fire will not die and his attitude towards the game is no going to change. The Heat though, cannot just make up another player like that. They have plenty of players on the team who are great so overall, releasing Miller was not something that is detrimental to this team. Most likely, they will still make their 4th straight NBA Finals appearance. However like I said, coming down the stretch when injuries and slumps occur (especially in the playoffs) they might realize what they had and just maybe will regret letting him go.