WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN
Not only has Heat swingman Mike Miller decided against retirement (contrary to an ESPN report from last month), but he also now expects to avoid the back surgery that many thought was inevitable.
“The plan is to avoid surgery,” Miller said Tuesday while hosting a basketball camp for children in Hialeah. “We’re doing everything we can. I fully intend on being ready for training camp.” And he’s optimistic about playing a full 2012-13 season.
Miller, who has said he has multiple bulging discs, was in pain throughout the playoffs but still drained seven three-pointers (in eight attempts) in the Heat’s series-clinching win against Oklahoma City. But Miller feels “a ton” of improvement since the playoffs: “There’s no comparison.”
Noted neurological surgeon Barth Green is optimistic surgery can be avoided, Miller said. Aside from traveling for promotional appearances (including for his new energy drink, Let It Fly, that hits the market Aug. 10), Miller has been resting his back. Green and Miller will meet Wednesday and discuss when to move on to the next phase of “strengthening it and doing exercises.
“I was nervous [seeing Barth Green]," said Miller, who had hernia surgery last offseason. "People who are the best at what they do also know how to do alternatives and what it takes to prevent having surgery. Even though he's known for being the best as a surgeon, he was trying to avoid it, which is a credit to him.
"The problem with not having surgery is it doesn't go away," he added. But "the doctor says it looks fantastic. So we're going to continue to rehab it and see how it goes.”
Miller, 32, said his epic Game 5 of The Finals still doesn’t seem real. “The one thing it has done is it makes me want to do it again, not the 7-for-8, but being part of a playoff run.”
He said retirement “crossed my mind” but “if I didn’t believe I can play, I wouldn’t have come back.” He said he probably would have retired if he had needed surgery.
Regarding Miller, Heat president Pat Riley said, "I remember one year Dan Majerle was going to retire because of a severe back injury. He said, ‘I can’t practice.’ We put him on a bike every day. Never practiced once and started every game for us. There are ways to maintain guys that have had a number of injuries.”
With the addition of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, the Heat is loaded with shooters, but Miller didn’t sound concerned. He averaged 6.1 points and 19.3 minutes last season, shooting 45.3 percent on three-pointers. Coincidentally, Allen also shot 45.3 percent on threes last season but made twice as many as MIller (106 to 53).
“Minutes are always hard on this team. That’s what makes it good and competitive,” Miller said. "You're not just adding two more shooters. You're adding the best shooter of all time when it comes to makes, and Rashard Lewis is right up there, too."
Owed $18.9 million over the next three years, Miller said the fact players continue to take less money to sign here “shows commitment to winning. This is a special organization to be a part of it. The Arisons and Rileys should both be patting themselves on the back. Whenever you’ve got players that take less money, that means you’re doing something right.”
As Riley said two weeks ago, the Heat did not use its amnesty provision on Miller - or anybody - before Tuesday's deadline.
### Chris Bosh has a message to Heat center Dexter Pittman: “You have to stop fouling!” Pittman has shown offensive growth during the first two Summer League games but the 10 fouls in 37 minutes is ridiculous, especially considering the competition.... Though FIU alum Raja Bell would love to play here, the Heat has shown zero interest since he became a free agent.
### Dolphins coach Joe Philbin is so hands-on that his wife, Diane, said “he was interested in changing the Dolphins’ letterhead and I was shocked he was concerned with that.” Philbin has been very involved in changes throughout the facility, including choosing photos of former Dolphins to put in the halls (and the cutlines/captions) and posting slogans such as “champions practice here.”
### Players have talked about how detail-oriented Philbin is, and Diane says as a couple, they actually write five-year lists of “our goals for life and our kids.” She calls Joe her “meat and potatoes. He’s always there, dependable, steady. His best quality is he takes a stressful situation, puts it in perspective, and makes it less stressful.”
### General manager Jeff Ireland, speaking about Ryan Tannehill to the Dolphins’ web site: “I’m trying not to put too many grandiose expectations on the kid. I think the kid is our future. Obviously, I wouldn't have drafted him with the eighth pick [otherwise]. I feel like he's the kind of guy you want in the locker-room, the kind of athlete you want running an offense. But we’ve got two other quarterbacks here that are very established, very good competitors, so it’s not going to be easy for him."
Tannehill has been slow in making decisions at times and has taken a lot of sacks. But Ireland said, "the speed of the game is challenging for any rookie.”
### The Dolphins have discussed cutting capacity at Sun Life Stadium, but now are re-evaluating that because they’ve sold 6000 new season tickets, mostly since the draft. That's the most in several years, team CEO Mike Dee said.
### UM offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch, who attended a Dolphins practice last month, isn’t using the no-huddle like the Dolphins are, but wants to hasten the tempo.
“We would like to go from 66 plays a game to 76,” he said. “We’re trying to break the huddle at about 23 seconds rather than 15. And we’ve eliminated some of our motions to get going quicker. Our guys really responded to that.”
### One National League scout, on Marlins pitcher Josh Johnson (5-6, 4.28): “He can’t keep his pitch count down, and they have to get him out after five or six innings. He doesn’t have the same stuff, and hitters can foul a lot of pitches off. He’s got enough velocity on his fastball. It’s more an issue of life and angle on the fastball.”
According to fangraphs.com, his fastball velocity is down to 93.0 - from 94.9 two years ago – and hitters are swinging and missing on nine percent of his pitches, compared with 12 two years ago. On pitches swung at, batters are making contact on 91 percent of balls in the strike zone, compared with 83 two years ago, which is telling.
### The Marlins say they don't expect Juan Carlos Oviedo (elbow problems) to pitch again this year. He's a free agent after the season.
### The Marlins’ average home attendance of 28,442 (18th in baseball) is below the 33,000 they privately hoped for, resulting in lower gate revenue than they projected. Could that lead to a payroll reduction for 2013? That decision hasn’t yet been made. But one Marlins official expects major winter roster changes (and perhaps a trade or two in late July) if this team doesn’t start winning.