Photo credit: Trung Ho / TrungHo.ca
Malcolm Miller underwent surgery Monday to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, Raptors Republic has learned.
The Toronto Raptors had previously announced that Miller dislocated the shoulder, but as he is no longer on the roster, I’m not sure they’ll provide further updates on his status. Miller injured the shoulder late in the third quarter of a Summer League game in early July and immediately appeared to know something was wrong. He was quickly diagnosed with the right shoulder dislocation, and when an MRI came back worrisome, Miller flew to Los Angeles to see a specialist. There, the labrum tear was diagnosed and surgery recommended, as without surgery there is a high risk of re-injury down the line.
The timeline for these recoveries can vary, but a rough estimate would have Miller back on the court in five-to-six months. Delon Wright had a similar surgery two summers ago after suffering a similar injury, and an Aug. 1 surgery saw him make his on-court return in the G League on Jan. 25, and without knowing the respective severity of each tear and any other details, it would seem Wright’s is at least a reasonable baseline to use.
In response to the injury, the Raptors withdrew Miller’s qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent. Had they left it on the table, Miller could have signed a two-way contract with $50,000 guaranteed, taking up a two-way slot or forcing the Raptors to waive him. Both sides remain interested in continuing the working relationship, and the Raptors will track Miller’s recovery if he doesn’t land with another team in the interim.
It’s a terrible break for a player who was on the precipice of the NBA. A successful first foray into the two-way contract environment, Miller was a major contributor on a Raptors 905 team that went to the G League Finals and also contributed to the parent club Raptors, even starting a couple of games toward the end of the year. Initially in Summer League as a restricted free agent, Miller seemed a likely candidate to earn a contract from the Raptors, perhaps similar to the one-year guarantee and one or more unguaranteed years that some other two-ways made good like Derrick Jones Jr. have signed as restricted free agents. Miller showed himself to be an NBA-caliber player, and breaking through that door will now be put on hold.
Where he goes from here is unclear. If he winds up taking some six months to recover, that would have him back on the court in early 2019. That’s probably too late for a tax-strapped team like the Raptors to sign him now and wait, but perhaps it’s something they can explore as he nears a return to health. The 905 could also try to acquire his G League rights (perhaps after signing him to an Exhibit 10 deal), allow him to rehab there, and then re-evaluate when he’s healthy, though that would require Miller re-entering the G League player pool and passing a league physical (since the G League technically pays those contracts). Miller is a free agent, and so another team could make a play to bring him in, believing the upside at the back end of a deal would be worthwhile to help him rehab to that point.
Whatever the case, this is really unfortunate. Miller had a great season, has been a fine addition to the Raptors’ organization from a culture perspective, and has now suffered a major Summer League injury for the second year in a row. The safe bet is that he’ll be back in this position again soon, but he’s losing the bulk of a year as he works his way back there.