By Surya Fernandez
The NBA relaxed the stiff rules of the 2011 lockout, allowing players to work out at team facilities today. Juwan Howard, Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem, James Jones, Joel Anthony and Dexter Pittman all practiced at the AmericanAirlines Arena, but the biggest news of the day was about someone who was in bed today, and will remain there for at least a week: Mike Miller.
Haslem, Miller’s good friend and fellow University of Florida product, said that Miller underwent a hernia injury to fix an abdominal muscle that had pulled away from his pelvic bone. He said he coud miss up to eight weeks, with training camp scheduled to begin one week from Friday and the regular season set for a Dec. 25 start.
Several outlets have speculated that the Heat will use the amnesty provision of the new collective bargaining agreement to waive Miller, who has four years left on his contract. Last season, Miller underwent thumb surgery in October and did not return until late December. This latest injury only increases the likelihood of Miller leaving the Heat.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported before knowledge of Miller’s latest surgery went public that Miami would probably have to waive the 6-foot-8 shooting specialist because of the team's proximity to the luxury tax. If a team uses the full mid-level exception starting at $5 million, it cannot exceed a payroll of $74 million – $4 million above the luxury tax threshold. The Heat’s payroll currently sits at $65.3 million, with nine players under contract.
If the Heat waive Miller and the $5.4 million he is owed this year, Pat Riley could use the full mid-level, sign another player with the bi-annual exception worth $1.9 million and acquire other players at the veteran’s minimum while staying below the de facto $74 million hard cap.
Team executives could contact player agents beginning yesterday, and the Heat reportedly have contacted Grant Hill, Shane Battier, Caron Butler, Jamal Crawford and Shawne Williams – all of whom could fill the swingman role Miller provided last year.
Get more great Miami Heat analysis over at Hot Hot Hoops.