2014 NBA free agent rumors: Thunder have Mike Miller in their sights

Ronald Martinez

A year ago, Mike Miller eschewed the Thunder in favor for the Memphis Grizzlies. Do the Thunder have a shot at the sharpshooter a second time around?

Memphis Grizzlies 3-point specialist and past Thunder killer Mike Miller is a free agent and the Thunder are targeting him once again. According to Grizzlies beat writer Ronald Tillery:

ESPN's Marc Stein confirmed the report:

The Gasol part is an extra bit of juicy information for Thunder fans, but as we covered a few days ago, and as Mike Prada of SB Nation just reiterated today, it would be highly unlikely OKC could make it work financially.

Miller seems far more attainable, though as Tillery reported, he is still Memphis' guy to lose.

Why this move makes sense for the Thunder

I'll spare everyone the heartache of highlights from Game 5 of the 2012 NBA Finals, but if you're a glutton for punishment, go ahead and Google it. More succinctly, the Thunder needs shooters more than anything, and that's exactly what Miller provides.

He's older, sure, but he shot 46 percent from long distance last year, which was the second-best percentage of his career. He also appeared in all 82 games for just the second time in his career, a testament both to his ability to accept a bench role, and stay conditioned enough to perform in that role.

Oklahoma City was a middle-of-the-pack 3-point shooting team last season, finishing 14th overall in 3-point percentage while attempting the 15th-most attempts per game. That was regular season, though, and when it came time for the postseason they attempted the 6th-most attempts per game of the 16 playoff teams, while converting at the 4th-worst percentage.

Watching the Thunder offense increasingly rely on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook being forced to get creative in finding ways to score made it abundantly clear that, for the offense to reach a higher level of consistency, they would need a reliable outside shooter. That's what Miller would provide, as he would essentially be the safety valve for Westbrook and Durant, who can attract so much attention and clog a defense inside, that it leaves the perimeter wide open for someone to capitalize.

Why this move does NOT sense for the Thunder

The biggest concern for the Thunder is most certainly Miller's durability. Again, he played in 82 games for just the second time in his career last year, and at 34 years old, you just wonder how much possible injury concerns come into play in this decision.

Then there is the issue of his defense, something he has always been criticized for. Miller's defense will most certainly be a liability for a Thunder team that is more than likely losing one of its premier wing defenders in Thabo Sefolosha. Memphis' defense was 8 points worse per 100 possessions when Miller was on the court, a pretty glaring difference. Keep in mind, though, that Memphis is an elite defense with guys like Tony Allen filling his role while Miller is on the bench.

Lastly is the issue of the contract, and it's been reported that Miller is seeking a multi-year deal. He made just $1.3 million last year in Memphis, so the number shouldn't be too high for a Thunder team that only has about $5 million to work with as it stands right now. The recent signings of guys like Jodie Meeks and Avery Bradley have likely driven up the price for free agents altogether, though, and so once again it will be a matter of how much Memphis offers, and how high OKC is willing to go to pry him away.

What is the likelihood of this happening?

The fact that Miller insists his heart is in Memphis makes this a tough one from the start for OKC. But you do have to wonder how much longer the Grizzlies will wait around on making him a formal offer that is to his liking. Given all of the recent turmoil in the Memphis front office, perhaps Miller is questioning whether or not he is in the plans after all. In the mean time, Miller seems to be taking meetings from potential suitors:

That was from last night, and the caption: "Quick stop in #LA with some good people @easymoneysniper @kdtrey5 #letitfly" seems to suggest nothing more than a lighthearted hangout with a friend. But it'd be naive to think the possibility of joining forces next year didn't come up. Again, it's no secret that Miller spurned the Thunder last year, and the interest remains.

It sounds like it will come down to Memphis' offer, but with Durant giving his sales pitch, OKC appears to be second in line if the Grizzlies offer doesn't come through. 6.5 out of 10.

Acquisition grade


It wouldn't be the splashiest move OKC could make, but it would certainly be a bit more exciting than Derek Fisher and Caron Butler. Miller's shooting is exactly what the Thunder needs, and just having that floor spacer available off the bench, along with Lamb, could give the Thunder that extra piece to score points on a more consistent basis. His defense could be problematic, but if managed correctly and surrounded with the right pieces, it shouldn't be a big enough reason to steer clear of an offer altogether. Miller can shoot as well as any free agent out there right now, and at the right price, it could be worth it for the Thunder to let it fly with an offer.

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Welcome to Loud City

You must be a member of Welcome to Loud City to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Welcome to Loud City. You should read them.

Join Welcome to Loud City

You must be a member of Welcome to Loud City to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Welcome to Loud City. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.