Free agent forward Mike Miller was in Oklahoma City on Monday to meet with Thunder officials and tour the team's facilities.
It is believed to be the second face-to-face meeting Thunder general manager Sam Presti has had in the past week with Miller, who the team has aggressively pursued since he was waived by Miami under the league's amnesty provision on July 16.
Miller reportedly is being sought after by Houston, Memphis and Denver as well, and the 33-year-old forward is expected to soon settle on a decision.
As a championship contender, the Thunder has been widely believed to be the frontrunner, and Miller reportedly has told those close to him that Oklahoma City is where he would like to sign. But the Grizzlies, who Miller was a member of for 5 1/2 seasons, can't be ruled out, while the Rockets and Nuggets remain enticing for their abilities to offer Miller more playing time.
As he finalizes his decision, we examine five ways Miller could help the Thunder this season.
* Shooting: Miller is a career 40.6 percent 3-point shooter. That's what his specialty is at this stage in his career. He made 44.4 percent of his 3-pointers in the playoffs this year, and went 11 of 18 (61.1 percent) from that range in the NBA Finals. In the wake of the departures of James Harden and Kevin Martin, Miller would slide in as an ideal floor spacer. That means he must be accounted for at all times when he's on the floor, and his mere presence behind the arc would open driving lanes for Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Then it's a pick-your-poison proposition. If defenses stay home on Miller, Westbrook and Durant can have their way in the painted area. If they cheat off Miller, he'll make them pay on kick-outs for 3-balls.
* Experience: Miller is entering his 14th season. He's been on teams that have made the playoffs in eight of his 13 seasons. If he joins the Thunder, Miller's 78 total playoff games played would trail only Kendrick Perkins (116) for the most on the current roster. On a team that has gotten much younger this summer, Miller's experience would be a big boost both on the court and in the locker room. It gives Thunder coach Scott Brooks another player he can trust and presumably will eliminate mistakes that younger, more inexperienced players inevitably will make while going through the learning curve.
* Depth: The Thunder still doesn't have a true backup to Durant. Miller could step in and be that guy. It would help Brooks keep Durant's minutes down for a fourth straight season and keep him fresh for the postseason. But by bringing in Miller, the Thunder also would welcome some additional scoring punch in a second unit that must reinvent itself for a third straight season. Miller hasn't averaged double figures since the 2009-10 season, but his sharp-shooting ability could help balance the bench by providing projected sixth man Reggie Jackson another potent outlet on the wing.
* Insurance: Without Miller, the Thunder's second unit would be relying heavily on Jackson and Jeremy Lamb. While Jackson proved in the playoffs that he's ready for more responsibility, Lamb remains an unproven commodity. If he's ready, great. If he's not, Lamb could take a backseat for another season and Miller could fill the role of spot-up shooter. The postseason is really when Lamb's preparedness will be put to the test. If he's not quite ready for the moment, Miller's proven track record of playoff success would be a terrific fallback plan.
* Makeup: By all accounts Miller is a team-first player. He's been labeled a winner, a low-maintenance teammate and a guy who is willing to sacrifice for something greater than his individual desires. In other words, he's got the prototypical personality for the Thunder. It would help Miller fit in from Day One, as well as be an example to younger teammates. Few players have that ability or desire, which is one of the main reasons the Thunder has pursued Miller so aggressively.