Miller looking to fit in, stay healthy with Grizzlies
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Mike Miller says he’s just trying to fit in and be an asset to the Memphis Grizzlies.
The two-time NBA champion is being a bit humble.
When he smoothly swishes 3-pointer after 3-pointer in training camp, the Grizzlies see more than just the outside threat they’ve lacked for so many years. Memphis believes they’ve acquired a veteran who can help them take that big step past the Western Conference finals.
“Mike Miller’s going to be a huge addition being able to stretch the floor but also brings that championship experience,” Grizzlies guard Mike Conley said of his new teammate.
The Grizzlies won the services for Miller, a Mitchell native, over Oklahoma City, Houston and Denver in July, getting a bargain with the Miami Heat paying him more than $12 million over the next two seasons.
He still holds eight of the Grizzlies’ franchise records, including 3-point shooting percentage and the most 3s made and attempted from his previous tenure in Memphis between 2003 and 2008. He is a 41-percent shooter from three-point range in his 13 NBA seasons.
The 6-foot-8 Miller said his first priority is to just stay healthy through training camp while working his body back into basketball shape.
“This situation’s a little different,” Miller said. “Obviously, I’ve moved around from team to team, but just learning the guys, learning what the coach wants from you, learning how we’re going to play and how the players around you like to play.”
Miller is expected to provide a boost to a team that ranked 27th scoring 93.4 points per game and 24th beyond the arc shooting 34.5 percent. Quincy Pondexter was the Grizzlies’ most accurate shooter from 3-point range, hitting 39.5. Miller offers an immediate upgrade.
“And it’s great to add another NBA champion that’s for sure,” center Marc Gasol said. “Mike another voice, veteran voice in the locker room, it really does help. Now we have three NBA champions that can teach all the little things that it takes to get there.”
Miller joins Tayshaun Prince, who won a title with Detroit and was a trade pick-up by Memphis’ new ownership last January. The Grizzlies also brought back guard and member of the All-NBA defensive team Tony Allen in July on a four-year, $20 million contract.
That may be why Miller said he wants to pick his spots when sharing his experience and knowledge with a franchise that just went to its first Western Conference final.
“They understand how to play,” Miller said. “There’s little things that I think I can bring. I’m going to pick my spots and bring those. Obviously, what we did in Miami and the culture in Miami was successful so anything that I can bring to help the players or coaching staff, whatever it is I’m going to be there for it.”
That includes hosting a youth basketball camp Saturday in morning before the Grizzlies wrap up their week of training camp in Nashville with an open practice.
Miller played an average of 15.2 minutes per game in 59 games last season for Miami limited by injuries, but he was healthy in the postseason. Joerger said he’ll be monitoring minutes not only for Miller but for Conley, Gasol, Allen, Prince and Zach Randolph in what he called a delicate rope to walk.
It’s an easy trade-off for the professionalism, shooting and basketball I.Q. Miller brings.
“He can play three or four positions for us,” Joerger said. “It’s another guy that has some rings on him and playoff experience. We just got to keep him healthy and have him ready at the end.”