I like Mike. Mike Miller, that is. And not just because we have similar names. I like his versatile game, and his versatile hair. He's what I'd like to be if I were an NBA player: a guy with one great skill (shooting) who is also solid in many other areas of the game. A complete player. Also, everybody in the league seems to like him.
So I was excited when Miller turned down better offers to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers this past offseason. On paper, he seemed like a great fit. He would be able to guard multiple positions and provide outside shooting to help clear the lane for the likes of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. If needed, he would probably be able to step up and win a playoff game with some timely three-pointers.
It didn't work out as planned. There's only one word to describe Miller's first season with the Cavs: disappointing.
Jason Lloyd reported that Miller showed up to camp out of shape, and he never quite found his rhythm. During the regular season, he played just 13.5 minutes per game in 51 games, and shot 32.7 percent from deep -- the lowest percentage of his career. I assume he offered some veteran leadership in the locker room, or something, but that's just about the only value he provided.
Still, in the playoffs, I figured there'd be a role for him, especially after the injury to Kevin Love. I was wrong.
David Blatt inserted him into the starting lineup for Game 1 against the Bulls. It went poorly. Miller played 16 minutes in that game and although he did manage to hit a three, he looked completely lost most of the time, especially defensively. He ended up with three DNP-CDs in the series against Chicago.
It seemed like Blatt just didn't trust him at all after that Game 1 performance, although he still did get some minutes in the Finals. His totals for the postseason: 65 minutes played, three three-pointers made. Even when the Cavs desperately needed somebody who could generate offense, Miller could barely get on the court.
All of this may sound like I'm down on Miller. But, while I'm disappointed with how this last season went, I'm still hopeful. He has an option to be back next season, and early reports indicate he'll pick it up. Now that he has something to prove, perhaps he'll show up in better shape and be able to play more of a role from the start of next season.
One thing that will be true for all of these Cavs is that they should all feel a little bit more comfortable from day one. Last year, they were implementing a bunch of new players under a brand new coach. Next year, it will be mostly the same players under (presumably) the same coach. There should be more cohesion.
In theory, Miller still seems like a guy who is a natural fit in a limited role on a team like this. The only question is whether there is anything left in his 35-year-old tank, or whether he is just completely washed. Shooting is one skill that tends to age well. We'll see.