Before the final game of the season, Flip Saunders was queried a fair bit about a player, who in just 26 games (18 starts) since signing with the team in late-February, is the free-agent Wizards fans, and likely the organization, would most like to bring back. If you think Shaun Livingston is anything less than a keeper then you haven’t been watching. And that’s okay. But we’ll get to Livingston’s situation soon down the road.
In talking about what factors might influence Livingston, or any other free-agent for that matter, Saunders said, “When players have decisions, it’s based on money … money and opportunity. That’s pretty much what it is.”
That brings us to Mike Miller. He’s amongst the handful of the Wizards’ own free-agents that the team has some level of interest in retaining. The chances of keeping Miller may not be as high as Livingston, or even Josh Howard, in my opinion, but they are certainly higher than the chance of seeing Randy Foye in a Wizards uniform again. Basketball management thinks highly of Miller’s ability and character, and sources have indicated that Ernie Grunfeld refused to include Miller in trade proposals leading up to February’s deadline, including spurning strong interest from the Miami Heat.
Free-agency obviously depends on a number of factors. One, as Flip mentioned, is money. Priorities two and three might be money as well. But not necessarily for Miller. Even before the frustrations of 2009-10 started to show in his on-court emotions as the season wore down, it was easy to sense that Miller desperately desires to play for a winner. In 20 total career playoff games over five seasons (two with Orlando and three with Memphis), Miller has only two post-season wins to show, obviously never making it past the first round.
For these reasons it’s been often believed that Miller would head for greener winning pastures this off-season, perhaps to play with his buddy LeBron, or even Dwight Howard, as he once said that he would “love” to go back to Orlando … if you want to read into that a ton.
After last night’s Wizards game, I posed three questions to Miller: 1) aside from money, what will be the determining factors that will influence where he might sign this summer; 2) if D.C. provides a potential winning situation for him; and 3) how the team’s high opinion of him makes him feel.
Here’s the video clip of Miller talking after the game:
In building a basketball team, I would not mind having Miller back. He’s unquestionably a team player, almost to a fault with his non-shooting preference of trying to get the ball “poppin’ and moving” at times. He’s also a good leader, whether it be in the locker room mentoring young D-League prospects like Cartier Martin or on the court leading by example with unrelenting hustle.
But the circumstances surrounding his return, obviously not wanting to over-pay for a 30-year old from the perspective of the team, and that “being in a winning situation” perspective from the player, give a strong inclination that Miller has played his last game in a Wizards uniform.
Miller is a good guy whose skills will be best served in a supporting role around a team full of surefire playoff-caliber talent. History may see Miller as a trade acquisition for a draft pick blemish in the Washington franchise’s record book, just like Mark Price. But at least Miller played in 47 more games with the team than Price. So, Wizards fans have that going for them. In any case, here’s to wishing Mike Miller the best, wherever he lands.
At times this season, it seemed like Mike Miller was hanging by a thread.