On Tuesday, the Miami Heat made the decision to amnesty Mike Miller who had won over America’s heart by hitting a clutch three in Game 6 of the NBA Finals with only one shoe on. Well, maybe he didn’t win over America’s heart, but he did win over the hearts of Miami Heat fans, and in the process help the team secure a second straight NBA title. However, ESPN.com points out that this move makes sense from a business sense and that business is what ultimately prevails in the world of professional sports:
The move will save the Heat nearly $17 million in luxury taxes this season and reduce their expected tax bill, projected to be $33 million, by half. The Heat still owe Miller $12.8 million over the next two seasons as part of a contract he signed in 2010
If the Miami Heat were going to amnesty anybody, Mike Miller was going to be the guy. There was talk about maybe deciding to amnesty Joel Antony or James Jones, but those guys don’t combine to make the kind of money that the Heat were scheduled to pay Mike Miller (they actually still are scheduled to pay him, but it won’t count against their luxury tax payments thanks to the amnesty clause).
As far as what this move does for the Miami Heat going forward it means that they need to find a guy who can come in and hit clutch threes at the drop of hat (or a shoe for that matter). His clutch shooting was especially crucial for them given that Rashard Lewis and James Jones were not giving them anything, and Shane Battier pulled a disappearing act from beyond the arc. Unless Ray Allen becomes even more of a factor for them next season, they will have to find somebody else to replace him. It’s unfortunate for the Heat that they didn’t make this decision a bit sooner given that long-range shooter Kyle Korver has re-upped with the Hawks and 3-point wizard J.J. Redick has split for Los Angeles to join the Clippers. The Heat are going to have a hard time replacing Miller’s production unless they make a move via trade (which is unlikely).
That being said, this move does make sense given the kind of money he was making. No matter how valuable his timely shooting was in the playoffs, over the course of the regular season, he didn’t do a whole lot. He was hobbled all the time, only playing in 59 games, and he averaged a meager 4.8 points per game. That is over $1M per point per game!!! That simply isn’t good economically for the Heat to pay him that much money. While choosing to amnesty Miller seems cruel and harsh given his heroics in the Finals, it was the only sensible thing for them to do for their financial and basketball well-being.
Raptors small forward Linas Kleiz was also amnestied before Tuesday’s deadline, who was scheduled to make $4.6M next season. Via the Toronto Star:
“We thought it was safer now to do it,” Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri said after Toronto’s 81-70 summer-league win over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday. “Sometimes with those things it’s on your mind the whole time and you don’t want to end up doing something funny or losing something because you’re trying to get under the tax later on.”
Given that Kleiza has been plagued with injuries and that he has only been able to play in 108 games over the past 3 seasons, waiving him via the amnesty clause is really a no brainer for the Raptors. When healthy, is worth the amount that he is being paid, the problem is he doesn’t play, hence the need to amnesty him. This move really is quite an easy one for the Raptors to make. He likely doesn’t give them much next season either due to his knees. It makes sense to part ways with him, bite the bullet by paying him the $4.6M, but at least not have it count against the luxury tax threshold.
A third player was also amnestied before the deadline. That player would be Bucks forward/center Drew Gooden. ESPN.com reports:
Gooden, 31, had two years and $13.36 million left on a five-year, $32 million contract he signed with the Bucks in 2010. He will get paid despite being waived, but Milwaukee won’t have the money count against the salary cap.
Since the Bucks are looking to re-build and start from scratch, the decision to amnesty Drew Gooden also makes sense given his hefty contract and lack of games played to speak for it. During these last three seasons, Gooden has been injury plagued, only playing in 107 games, which is actually fewer than the amount of games Linas Kleiza played. $6+M per season to only play around 35 games just isn’t worth the money if you are the Bucks.
—Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord