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Heat's Miller faces tough decision in offseason


Posted Jun 22 2012 7:15PM

MIAMI (AP) -- Mike Miller showed how tough he is while playing through injuries all season. Now he needs to make a tough decision about his future.

Miller plans to meet with doctors soon to determine if his injured back needs surgery that includes a lengthy rehabilitation process. The Miami Heat guard also played with a foot problem this season, and typically declines to discuss his injury woes in any specifics other than saying he's well enough to play.

Miller set an NBA Finals record by making seven 3-pointers as a reserve in Miami's title-clinching win over Oklahoma City on Thursday night. He limped with nearly every step while scoring 23 points in 23 minutes - Miami won the game 121-106, taking the series with the Thunder in five games - and Miller raised the possibility afterward that the final game of this season may have been the final game of his career.

"It's been a roller coaster ride for everybody," said Miller, who has three years and $18.6 million remaining on his contract with the Heat. "Everyone is dealing with something. Through the injuries, I'm just glad they didn't take me back to the barn and put me down. I'm just happy to be here."

On Monday, he'll be at a championship parade. City officials announced the event celebrating the Heat title would begin at 11 a.m. Monday, with about 90 minutes needed to complete the route.

Since signing with the Heat two years ago, Miller has dealt with a slew of thumb, ankle and shoulder injuries, plus needed surgery before this season to correct a hernia issue. There were many times this season when back pain prevented him from sitting on the bench; he'd either sit on the court, or sprawl out on the baseline or sideline to keep his back stretched.

"Mike Miller, I don't know how this guy was playing," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Miller is not the only Miami sharpshooter who is weighing his future options. Miami native James Jones said he is not absolutely certain about returning next year when the Heat try to defend their title.

Like Miller, Jones also has dealt with some injury problems in recent seasons.

"I really couldn't tell you what the future holds for me," Jones said. "Growing up in Miami and playing basketball on the biggest stage with the world's best team and have an opportunity to win a championship is something that I never believed would come true. Now that it has come true, I don't know. Who wouldn't want to go out on top?

"It's great to have options," Jones added. "That's the one thing about it. For the last 31 years of my life I've been grinding every day trying to take a championship on some level and I got it. Now that's a dream fulfilled and I'll have to move onto the next challenge. If that's championship No. 2, it's championship No. 2. If not, it's been a great run."

Combined, Miller (53) and Jones (46) made 99 3-pointers for the Heat this season.

Miller said he was still thrilled that Heat owner Micky Arison and team president Pat Riley wanted him in Miami two years ago, adding that whatever decision he makes will be with the team in mind.

"I've got to make the best decision, not only for the organization, for the players that work every night, for the Arisons who believed in me, for coach Riley for bringing me here, and then my family," Miller said. "Just got to make sure it's the best one. If it is, I couldn't picture a better point to go out on top like this as a champion. But we'll see. We'll visit the doctors and see what parts work and don't, and go from there."

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