As free agency cranked up last summer, Mike Miller emerged near the top of the Thunder’s wish list. It didn’t work out.
But as it takes shape again this summer, Miller is back on the open market. And the Thunder is again aggressively pursuing, with hopes of a different outcome.
Miller went on a Memphis radio station on Wednesday afternoon and revealed that the Thunder is one of five teams – Denver, Houston, Memphis and the Clippers are the other four – pursuing his services. And just hours before, he sent out an Instagram photo of him and Kevin Durant hanging out in Los Angeles, offering a peek into the Thunder’s recruitment plan.
“Quick stop in LA with some good people,” Miller captioned his photo with Durant.
For the Thunder, it has always been a natural fit. Miller is an established shooter and a respected locker room presence. The Thunder is a team in desperate need of the first skill and in constant search of the second.
“I think there’s a lack of veterans, as well as shooting in this league,” Miller told ESPN 92.9 FM in Memphis on Monday. “I fill both those voids.”
Last season, Miller shot a scorching 46 percent from three, good for third best in the NBA. And maybe more importantly, he alleviated nagging concerns about his health issues, serving as the only Grizzlies player to appear in all of the team’s 89 games, counting the regular season and playoffs.
He makes sense for the Thunder and, in many ways, the Thunder makes sense for him. OKC is a title contender, which is a must for the two-time champion. It has playing time to offer at shooting guard, with a void left after Thabo Sefolosha’s expected exit. And it offers a potential paradise for a sharpshooter, with Durant and Russell Westbrook serving as the type of dynamic playmakers who open up wide-open shots. When healthy during his three seasons in Miami, Miller thrived in that type of offense, feeding off LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
But just like last summer – when, at one point, it was reported the Thunder had emerged as the favorite to land Miller – his connection with Memphis remains the biggest roadblock. And it’s likely an insurmountable one.
Despite some organizational drama at the beginning of the summer, which nearly included the Grizziles’ second coaching change in as many seasons, Miller has steadfastly maintained a public desire to remain in Memphis.
"They know how badly I wanna be here," Miller said on Memphis radio Monday. "That makes it very simple. If they feel the same way, and it's a fair deal, it’ll be a done deal.”
Miller said he’d like to have a deal done by Friday or Saturday and his “heart is in Memphis.” But if it hits any snags, the Thunder will gladly swoop, hoping to secure the services of a 3-point sniper that has consistently burned OKC in the past.