October 20, 2014

Medina
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UPDATED: Mike Miller, James Jones ready to help LeBron James win in Cleveland

Cleveland Cavaliers' James Jones, left, and Mike Miller hold up their jerseys after being introduced to the media Wednesday in Independence. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Cleveland Cavaliers’ James Jones, left, and Mike Miller hold up their jerseys after being introduced to the media Wednesday in Independence. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

INDEPENDENCE — Mike Miller and James Jones spent most of their introductory Cavaliers press conference Wednesday addressing questions about LeBron James.

That was fine with both veterans, who won two titles with James as members of the Miami Heat.

“I think his passion for wanting to bring a championship back here to Cleveland drives him more than anything,” the 34-year-old Miller said of James at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “It’s one of the reasons me and (Jones) are sitting up here now.”

The Cavs have made one NBA Finals appearance since their inception in 1970, that coming when James and Co. were swept by San Antonio in 2007. Jones, who will be entering his 12th season, appeared in four finals with the Heat; Miller, who is entering his 15th year, was a part of three.

“When you talk about winning a championship, it’s an inexact science, but the components that are required are consistent,” Jones said. “You need youth and you need athleticism. You need basketball IQ, you need chemistry and you need shooters and skill. More importantly, you need a culture of winning. The only way to establish a culture of winning is to have winners.”

In addition to being winners, Miller and Jones have both shot better than 40 percent on 3-pointers for their careers. With James and Kyrie Irving expected to create a lot of double teams, they should get their share of open looks with the Cavs.

“The first thing we talked about (in the offseason) was shooting,” Cleveland general manager David Griffin said. “We talked about basketball IQ, we talked about toughness, we talked about fit. These gentlemen here represent all of those things. These are some of the most mentally tough competitors I’ve ever gotten to watch or be with.

“These guys fit everything we’re trying to do and everything we’re about,” the GM added. “Obviously, as we’re trying to take the next step toward being a championship team, these are pieces we absolutely had to have.”

Better still, the veterans didn’t cost the Cavs much. Miller signed a two-year deal for $5.5 million that includes a player option after the 2014-15 season, while Jones signed a one-year pact for the veteran minimum of approximately $1.4 million.

Add a seemingly impending trade for Minnesota power forward Kevin Love and it’s been an eventful offseason for the Cavs, who have not made the playoffs since James left for Miami in 2010.

“I don’t know if you can have six months like we’ve had, but it’s been special,” Griffin said. “Obviously, when you get enough people who are like-minded and are about the right things, good things can happen.

“Having LeBron in the fold is the best recruiter you could possibly have,” he added. “When we ask him to reach out to somebody, guys like (Miller and Jones) are more than willing to listen.”

The 6-foot-8, 218-pound Miller and 6-8, 215-pound Jones are no strangers to the media circus that surrounds James, and they know it’s not going to lessen now that he’s playing 40 minutes from his native Akron.

“It’s going to be crazy here next year,” Miller said. “We understand that. It was crazy when we went to Miami. If you look back at what we did that first year (when the Heat lost to Dallas in the finals), it was incredible. When you bring a group of people, new faces like that together, it’s difficult.

“We went to the finals, but our whole mindset was championship or bust and it made it to where basketball wasn’t nearly as fun as it should be. For us, our goal is to win a championship, there’s no doubt about that. But we also understand how hard it is to win one.”

Ray, Ray

Jones recently spent time with 39-year-old Ray Allen in Connecticut, but didn’t shed much light on whether his former Heat teammate would retire or become the latest veteran to sign with the Cavs.

“He has a decision to make,” Jones said. “At the end of the day, like every one of my teammates, every one of my brothers, I always try to give them support in whatever decision they pick. Of course, we’d love to have Ray. Hopefully, he makes a decision that’s best for him, and hopefully it’s a decision to continue to play. But as far as where he goes and what he’s thinking, I don’t know. I’m pretty sure he knows the guys that are here up front, and LeBron would love for him to play with us.”

Workout partners

Miller spent part of Tuesday working out with James at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High and was asked about the four-time MVP’s recent weight loss due to cutting carbohydrates.

“LeBron looks great,” he said. “He has lost a little weight, but he’s healthy.”

Tip-ins

  • James is scheduled to hold a brief media session Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the University of Akron’s InfoCision Stadium. The “Welcome Home LeBron Celebration” will follow from 7:15 to 9. The event is free, but fans must have downloaded tickets through Ticketmaster to gain admission.
  • Free-agent forward Shawn Marion is strongly leaning toward signing with the Cavs for the veteran minimum of $1.4 million, according to reports.
  • Miller met with Cavs coach David Blatt and said he seems “unbelievably awesome.”
  • There were reports that five-time All-Star point guard Chauncey Billups met with the Cavs earlier in the week, but it was unclear as to whether Cleveland’s interest was in acquiring him as a player or front office member.

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @RickNoland.