Suns' center begins therapy

PHOENIX – Phoenix Suns center Oliver Miller embarked on a weight-loss program Friday, trying to drop 25 pounds before training camp begins Oct. 7.

Team physician Richard Emerson said the 6-foot-9, 300-pound player also will see a psychologist during treatment and undergo therapy for a bulging disk in his spine.

The counseling was included after Miller’s involvement in several personal crises this month – he was accused of slapping his wife during a domestic dispute, and his father is accused in Texas of killing a man.

The conditioning portion of Miller’s program will be done in the America West Arena and the adjacent Suns Athletic Club.

‘‘We hope to see improvement by training camp,’’ Emerson said. ‘‘We’d like to see Oliver as close to 275 as possible.’’

The 24-year-old Miller, whose long arms, quickness and deft ballhandling offset his relative lack of height, was viewed as the team’s center of the future after he was drafted No. 22 overall in 1992.

He finished his rookie season with a flair, blocking seven shots in an April 16 regular-season game against Seattle and setting a Suns playoff record by repeating the feat in Game 5 of the first-round series against the Los Angeles Lakers. But Miller’s weight gain midway through last season held him to 30 starts in 69 contests.

His development this year became essential when the Suns freed a salary slot to pursue free agents by trading center Mark West to Detroit for three second-round draft choices.

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