The theme of Tuesday's announcement was steps to a championship — a different approach from Miller's first stop in Memphis where the goal was simply to make the playoffs. Miller was part of those Grizzlies' teams that set the NBA record for most playoff games lost at 12 straight.
Miller now knows what it takes to make the Finals and win a title.
“The difference between making the playoffs and making the Western Conference finals and making the Finals is a huge step,” Miller said. “For this team to make that step … is big. The next step is even harder, and it's got to be commitment.”
The Grizzlies took nothing for granted pursuing Miller. Levien said he was willing to throw in “the kitchen sink” to secure him. Joerger even went to South Dakota where Miller was attending a charity event. Levien said he told Joerger “don't come back until you bring Mike with you.”
Joerger said Miller provides not only leadership, but the ability to stretch the floor with his long-range shooting. That should loosen up the inside for the Grizzlies' low post tandem of Randolph and Gasol.
“Maybe for other teams in the NBA, he's a hired gun,” Joerger said. “For us, he's not a hired gun. He's a part of the fabric of our organization for a long time. He's part of the community for a long, long time, and it runs a lot deeper than standing out there making some 3-point shots.”
Miller, who has a history of back problems, said he feels better now than he has in years. He went through last season with no problems at all, and will do whatever necessary to help the team win “whether it's to fill up (Joerger's) glass of water or make shots.”
“After being a part of a championship team and seeing how hard it is to win, it takes all of that,” Miller said.
Miller held up his Grizzlies jersey without a number. He wore 33 when he was in Memphis before, but Gasol — the defensive player of the year — will be keeping that number. Miller said Gasol is too good to give up a number, and buying it from Gasol doesn't seem to be an option either.
“I can't afford Marc's number,” Miller said.
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