The Miami Heat will return the entirety of their starting lineup next season, apparently, as Pat Riley told the media Wednesday that the two-time defending NBA champions will exercise their option to bring Mario Chalmers back for the 2013-2014 season.
The Heat had a $4 million team option on Chalmers for next season. In a move that isn't particularly surprising, they opted in Wednesday, securing the point guard for another year. He'll be an unrestricted free agent after the season, but the Heat's plans for the 2014 offseason are much more complicated than Chalmers.
Riley also said on Wednesday that the Heat aren't expected to amnesty Mike Miller, despite the fact that he's set to make $6 million next year and the team is over the luxury tax limit.
Chalmers has spent his entire career with the Heat since being acquired in a draft night deal in 2008 after winning that year's national championship with Kansas. The Alaska native meshed immediately, starting every game his rookie year and averaging 10 points per game.
The 27-year-old has maintained a starting role for the majority of his career, but his role has changed. Although he's the team's point guard, his role as a ballhandler his lessened with the introduction of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade into the lineup.
Heading into his sixth year in the league, Chalmers' ability to hit spot-up three-pointers has increased, making him more valuable to a squad where open threes are there to be had. He hit a career best 40.9 percent this past season and had some great shooting nights in the playoffs, notably a 20-point effort where he nailed four of five threes in a 103-100 win in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
Chalmers is still a bit of a whipping boy for James -- who's been noted to criticize him on-court -- but he's also a pretty important factor why the team is sitting on back-to-back titles right now.
As for Miller, he seemed useless for large stretches of the year while racking up his fair share of DNP-CD's. That lasted even through the early rounds of the playoffs, too, as Miller only appeared in six of the team's first 14 postseason games.
Then, thouh, he got hot. Miller began the NBA Finals by hitting nine of his first ten three-point attempts. As the Spurs looked to collapse the lane to prevent James' drives, his shooting became especially important because, with Udonis Haslem not helping the team's spacing, Miller was inserted to the team's starting lineup for the last four games of the Finals -- the Heat won three.