Cavaliers introduce Mike Miller and James Jones as dream offseason rolls on
BY EDDIE DILWORTH
CAVALIERS BEAT WRITER
The Cleveland Cavaliers’ magical offseason continues to sparkle.
The Cavs introduced free agent signees Mike Miller and James Jones Wednesday morning during an introductory press conference at the team’s practice facility. The conference, filled with smiles, laughs and photo ops, showcased the latest haul in an offseason that has already been more than bountiful.
“Obviously, as we’re trying to take the next step toward being a championship level team, these are pieces that we absolutely had to have,” Cavs general manager David Griffin said.
The Cavs introduced Miller and Jones as the franchise is in the midst of one of the most unprecedented off-seasons in NBA history. After a miraculous triumph in May at the NBA Lottery, the Cavs’ offseason has included the drafting of Andrew Wiggins with the No. 1 overall pick, LeBron James’ homecoming and the acquisition of ancillary pieces that followed the King to Cleveland.
“Obviously, this is a very exciting time to be a Cavs fan,” Griffin said. “This offseason has been tremendous for us. We’ve really been able to execute on a lot of the things that we set out to do, which is obviously a blessing.”
In past years, the Cavs hadn’t been the most successful team when it came to recruiting free agents. During James’ first stint with the Cavaliers, Cleveland struck out time and again when the organization went after upper-echelon free agents. Now that James is a champion and unquestionably the best player in the league, it appears top-tier players (insert Kevin Love thought here) are now willing to take residence on the shores of Lake Erie. James’ homecoming is likely the sole reason Miller and Jones decided to sign with Cleveland.
“I think his (LeBron) passion for wanting to bring a championship back here to Cleveland drives him more than anything, which is one of the reasons why me and James are sitting up here,” Miller, who will wear No. 18 with the Cavs, divulged. “We’re all excited to be here, obviously, but that’s one of the reasons because he’s driven to do that and that’s exciting. For as much as he’s given us, for us to be a part of this hopefully to help him do what he wants to do would be awesome.”
James and Miller worked out together Tuesday evening at James’ alma mater, St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, getting an early start on rekindling the rapport the two had in Miami. Miller won two NBA Championships (2012, 2013) as a member of the Heat, which went to four-straight NBA Finals with James at the helm.
“Obviously, LeBron James is the greatest player on the planet right now, so that makes things easy,” Miller said about joining James to bring a title to Cleveland. “But, it also had a combination of what this organization is about. I think that’s why you see LeBron making this decision to come back here and what it would mean to this city if we could do that.
“It’s a hard working city and to win a championship, it takes a lot of hard work. It’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. I was able to be a part, and James (Jones) was able to be a part, of an unbelievable ride in Miami — And for us to have a second chance at that here in Cleveland is a blessing. We’re excited about the opportunity.”
Not only does Miller bring championship experience to an organization that has never won an NBA title, he’s a 14-year veteran who’s joining his sixth NBA franchise. Miller has played for the Orlando Magic, Minnesota Timberwolves, Washington Wizards, Miami and the Memphis Grizzlies with career averages of 11.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists. Last season with the Grizzlies, Miller ranked second in the NBA by connecting on 45.9 percent of his three-point attempts.
Miller was named the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2005-06 and Rookie of the Year in 2000-01. With his addition to the Cavaliers, the team now has three players who’ve won the NBA’s top rookie award, including James and point guard Kyrie Irving. Miller and Jones will serve as veteran leaders for Irving and the rest of the Cavs’ inexperienced nucleus.
“That experience is a prerequisite for success — for extended success in this league,” Jones counseled. “When you talk about winning championships, it’s an inexact science, but the components that are required are consistent. You need youth. You need athleticism. You need basketball IQ. You need chemistry. You need shooting, skill, but more importantly, you need a culture of winning. And the only way to establish a culture of winning is to have winners.
“Myself and Mike, we’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to have this experience in Miami, where we developed a championship caliber team, and we hope to bring that here. When you mix that veteran leadership and experience with the bright futures that these young players have, there’s limitless potential.”
What exactly Jones’ and Miller’s roles will be on the court with the Cavaliers is the question. Miller is a 6-foot-8 shooting guard on a team that already has two promising guards at the position. Dion Waiters is entering his third year with the Cavs and the organization recently selected Wiggins first-overall. Rumors have swirled for weeks regarding the possibility of Wiggins being traded to Minnesota for Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love. If that trade was to happen, Miller could easily slide into the backup shooting guard role, assuming Waiters would start.
If anything, the additions of Miller and Jones adds depth to the Cavs roster. Jones, who in his 11-year career has played for Indiana, Phoenix, Portland and Miami, has career-averages of 5.7 points and 2.0 rebounds. He also won two NBA championships and appeared in four NBA Finals as a member of the Heat. Jones has a career three-point percentage of .403, which helped him win the 2011 NBA Three-Point Shootout. He will wear No. 1 with the Cavs.
While Miller said the Cavs’ goal was to win a title this season, neither he nor Jones would say the upcoming season is championship or bust.
“We understand the history here and what’s going on, and what we expect and hope to get done,” Miller said on the city of Cleveland. “But that’s what makes it fun about coming here….The city of Cleveland is going to be a lot of fun this year.”
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