HIALEAH (AP) — Mike Miller believes his balky back can improve without surgery, and he’s planning to help the NBA champion Miami Heat defend their crown next season.
Miller limped through much of this past season, his back pain so severe at times that he couldn’t even sit on the Heat bench during games. He has been consulting with Miami neurosurgeon Dr. Barth Green throughout this offseason, and the expectation now is that a combination of rest and rehabilitation should be enough to get him ready to play again.
“No retirement,” Miller said Tuesday.
Miller was 7 for 8 from 3-point range in Game 5 of the NBA Finals against Oklahoma City, helping the Heat clinch the franchise’s second championship.
Miller has three years remaining on his contract with the Heat, but considered retiring after two injury-filled seasons in Miami. An array of thumb, wrist and shoulder injuries plagued him in the 2010-11 season, and this past year was marred as well, first by offseason hernia surgery, the issue with a disc in his back, and a sprained ankle.
If back surgery was needed, Miller might have been sidelined for months and said that would have prompted him to lean toward retirement.
“The plan is to avoid surgery,” Miller said. “We’re doing everything we can. The doctor says it looks fantastic. So we’re going to continue to go in that direction, continue to rehab it, see how it goes.”
Miller made 45 percent of his attempts from 3-point range this season, averaging 6.1 points in 39 games. It’s been a whirlwind summer — “everything changes as a champion,” Miller said — with promotional appearances and plans to be involved in the release of an energy drink called Let It Fly on Aug. 10, but he’s sounding confident in the plan to be able to play again.
“Rest is the whole thing,” Miller said. “The inflammation gets out of there, the pain goes down, now it’s about strengthening it and sustaining.”
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