Moves are being made in free agency, but there have been no big name players switch uniforms yet. C.J. Miles is no exception to that, but his signing in Indiana for four years, $18 million is an interesting twist in the Lance Stephenson case.
Miles battled manfully as a role player in Cleveland last season, starting 34 of the 51 games he played on the wing. But as things stand at the moment, Miles would be one of Indiana’s starting wings, along with superstar Paul George. Stephenson held that role last season, but his rejection of the Pacers’ latest contract offer of five years, $44 million has put his return to the team in peril.
That uncertainty leaves my unsure about Miles’ role. Before we delve into the what ifs, let’s take a look at how things played out for C.J. last season.
Nothing too exciting there, but a decent 12 team contributor and a key piece in a 14 team league. His strengths are his three-point shooting and free throw shooting, although he doesn’t get to the line to have much of an impact.
But say he starts in Indiana and Stephenson doesn’t come back? The other wings on the roster are Solomon Hill, Chris Copeland and Damjan Rudez and Miles is clearly the best player of that motley crew. Another benefit of Miles signing in Indiana is that now we have a team with two guys named C.J. — Miles and C.J. Watson.
Indiana and Cleveland played at a similar pace last season, so the change in scenery shouldn’t have much of an impact of Miles’ output in that sense, but what will change potentially, are his minutes. If Miles starts, 29 minutes a game isn’t out of the question. He will see a similar amount of touches, as he played with one superstar in Irving and now with George and the other players on Indiana compare with Cleveland. David West would be the second offensive option, with George Hill and Roy Hibbert almost decoys, much like Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao were in Cleveland. Based on my projections, here’s how his numbers could look, if Stephenson bolts for greener pastures.
Now, those numbers place Miles as a top 80 player. I can hear you already. “Whoa” “Are you crazy?” Maybe a little, but as I stated above, look who’d be competing for minutes on the wing. Miles is a three-point bomber and also a good defender and that extra 10 minutes a game would be huge for his game. If Lance doesn’t resign, I’ll be grabbing Miles probably around the 11th or 12th round. But if Stephenson is back, that’s another kettle of fish. His minutes would probably be closer to last season, playing around 22 minutes a night.
As a backup, Miles would retain the same value he did this past season, placing him right at the back of 12 team drafts and out of consideration for 10 teamers. If Lance goes, Miles becomes one of my top sleepers. Make him one of yours.