Former Miami Heat swingman Mike Miller is considering fusion surgery to repair bulging disks in his back, a revelation that has caused some NBA teams to hesitate on making bids to claim him in the amnesty waiver process, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
Several contending teams have interest in signing Miller as a free agent should he go unclaimed before Thursday's 5 p.m. ET deadline, front-office sources told Yahoo! Sports, but all of those would have time for doctors to examine Miller and understand his intentions and needs regarding possible surgery.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are strongly considering a claim on Miller, and it is believed they've also been weighing the issues regarding his back, sources told Yahoo! Sports.
Miller's back problems caused him to miss games during the 2011-12 season. He also considered surgery in the summer of 2012.
Miami used the amnesty provision to free itself of the $12.8 million left on Miller's contract over the next two seasons. The decision will save the Heat significant money in luxury-tax payments, but the organization is still responsible for paying the balance of Miller's contract.
Cleveland has made several free-agency signings, including center Andrew Bynum, guard Jarrett Jack and forward Earl Clark, with a focus on returning to the playoffs next season. Miller is close friends with LeBron James, and the Cavaliers are planning to make a run to re-sign him in 2014 free agency.
Any team with salary-cap space can place a blind bid to claim the player, with the highest bid securing him. Teams can claim the player's full salary but must have available cap room or they can place a partial bid with their available cap space. For example, if Cleveland places a bid for $2 million on Miller – and it's the highest – the Cavaliers would be responsible for paying $2 million per season of the money left on Miller's contract. Miami would have to pay the rest.
The deadline for placing a waiver bid for Miller is 5 p.m. ET Thursday.
If Miller goes unclaimed in the process, he's a free agent and eligible to sign everywhere except back with Miami. Miller played a significant role in the Heat's back-to-back NBA championships and run to three straight Finals appearances.
Miller, 33, has played 12 NBA seasons, including stops with Orlando, Memphis, Minnesota, Washington and Miami. Despite several pivotal performances for Miami in key playoff and Finals games over the past two years, injuries often kept him out of the lineup, or playing hurt.
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