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Miller mulling a return to NBA; Retired Indiana guard in contact with Celtics.

Byline: Jimmy Golen

BOSTON - The Boston Celtics have spoken with future Hall of Famer Reggie Miller about coming out of retirement to help the once-proud franchise in its push for an unprecedented 17th NBA title.

"I'm always flattered when my name is mentioned as someone who can still help an NBA team win a championship," Miller said yesterday in a statement relayed to The Associated Press by the TNT network. "I've had limited discussions with Celtics management about their roster and a potential role for me. At this time, I'm enjoying my role as an analyst with TNT."

ESPN.com was the first to report the talks.

"(I have) contacted Reggie and he is contemplating a comeback with us," Celtics basketball boss Danny Ainge said through a team spokesman.

Miller's agent, Arn Tellem, declined comment.

Miller, who will turn 42 this month, played 18 seasons, all with the Indiana Pacers, before retiring in 2005. He is 13th on the league's career scoring list with 25,279 points and the leader in 3-pointers made and attempted.

His uniform No. 31 was retired by the Pacers last year.

In addition to working on television broadcasts of NBA and WNBA games, Miller has run a movie production company called Boom Baby Productions and co-hosted "Live with Regis and Kelly." But he admitted when the Pacers opened training camp without him in 2005 that it wasn't the same thrill.

"It's strange not to be a part of an (NBA) organization or part of a team," he said then. "I'm not joking with anybody on the bus like I usually do. But waking up with my back, knees and ankles hurting - that's not stuff I'm going to miss much."

The Celtics were 24-58 last season and have won three playoff series in the nine years since drafting Paul Pierce. But they have undergone a near-complete roster overhaul this summer that has taken them from a rebuilding program to Eastern Conference contenders.

They traded for seven-time All-Star Ray Allen on draft weekend and then pulled off an unprecedented seven-for-one trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves for former MVP Kevin Garnett. Those two will team with Pierce to form one of the most formidable top trios in the NBA.

But the rest of the roster needs work.

The starting lineup includes second-year pro Rajon Rondo at point guard and Kendrick Perkins at center. Only four other players are under contract.

"Clearly, we need a little bit more help just to shore up the bench," coach Doc Rivers said after the Garnett deal. "But it's sure better talking about shoring up our bench than shoring up our starting lineup."

That's where Miller would fit in, as a backup for Allen and the kind of veteran who would provide guidance - and perhaps a key 3-pointer - in the playoffs. The last time the NBA's most decorated franchise made the postseason, in 2005, it was bounced out in seven games by the Pacers in Miller's final season.

NAME: BOSTON CELTICS

ART: PHOTO

PHOTOG: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

CUTLINE: Paul Pierce, shown driving around Reggie Miller during a playoff game in 2003, could wind up a teammate of the future Hall of Famer.
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Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Aug 9, 2007
Words:529
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