C.J. Miles is ready.
The Jazz small forward is not waiting until the NBA lockout ends to suddenly run himself into shape, resorting to wind sprints and cramming last-minute for training camp as if the league's work stoppage never occurred.
Why sit around and fitfully wait when one can run free? So Miles runs. If he sees a track, the oval is open game. Outdoor cycling and indoor spin classes are also fair play.
"I try to keep to where I don't get bored with it," Miles said. "I've been doing everything."
This is the most important offseason of Miles' up-and-down, as-yet-unfulfilling career. Not even the NBA's nosedive into temporary nothingness can hold him back. He has critics to defy, coaches to impress and himself to please. He'd single-handedly cut the lock that bars the league's gates if he could.
"I feel like I could start camp and it would be one of my best camps that I've had since I've been in the league, and I still have a month before we regularly start. I feel good," said Miles, whose $3.7 million one-year team option was picked up June 29 by the Jazz.
Part of Miles' increased drive comes from personal pride. Part comes from the fact that he is entering a crucial contract season and his professional legacy is still undefined.
Miles averaged career highs last year in points (12.8), rebounds (3.3), blocks (0.5) and minutes (25.2), while setting career marks in everything from games played (78) and made field goals (366) to steals (74). He poured in a career-high 40 points on 14-of-18 shooting March 16 during a home win against Minnesota, draining six of seven 3-pointers.
And he reached double digits in scoring during every game that the Jazz played from March 3 through April 1, at times carrying the team despite the fact that close friend Deron Williams had been dealt to New Jersey in a shocking trade and Utah was dealing with inner turmoil.
But by the time the Jazz's frustrating season was over, Miles was in some ways still the same maddeningly inconsistent player that the Jazz selected out of Skyline High School (Dallas) with the No. 34 overall pick during the 2005 NBA Draft.
He connected on just 40.7 percent of his field-goal attempts and 32.2 percent of his 3-point tries, and a 9-of-37 shooting slump during early April captured his unpredictable nature.
So did his body fat. Miles' weight was recorded at 232 pounds during training camp for the 2010-11 season. By the time a chaotic year was over, he was up to 238. He then moved above 240 after the Jazz's exit interviews were complete.
By comparison, New York small forward Carmelo Anthony stands two inches taller than Miles at 6-foot-8, but weighed 230 last season.
"I don't think I need to be that big, because I'm already a big guard as it is," said Miles, who doesn't plan to play overseas next year unless the NBA season is canceled. "I don't think I need to be 235 to play my position."
Right now, he's not. Miles has stuck to his offseason vows, burning off excess weight and shrinking to 229. His goal: somewhere between 220 and 225.
The slimmed-down 24-year-old with an untouched ceiling has already caught the eye of a longtime confidant.
"He looks good, man. He's been working hard," Williams said. "I've been keeping in touch with him all summer. Pretty much every time I call him he's working out or sleeping."
Williams ended the sentence with a laugh, and another trusted former Jazzman couldn't help but get in a friendly dig when asked about Miles' improved shape.
"He's still fat," Portland guard Wesley Matthews joked.
Then the gym rat got serious.
"It's just that time where people want to take that next step, and he's doing that. â¦ I worked out with him a couple times; I was impressed," Matthews said. "But I always knew the stuff that C.J. had that a lot of people hadn't seen."
Matthews spent just a single season with Utah, but he fully embodied the selfless devotion and work ethic that former Jazz coach Jerry Sloan sought and current Utah coach Tyrone Corbin seeks.
Sloan was forced to spend the initial part of the Jazz's 2010-11 training camp condemning several players for showing up out of shape, unprepared for the tough 82-game campaign that awaited.
Corbin started challenging Utah's 2011-12 crew before last season even ended.
With the NBA stuck in a lockout, Miles is already one step ahead.
But his race has only just begun.
"I can stay strong and be small," Miles said. "It's just losing anything I don't need."
C.J. Miles file
Position • Small forward
Year • 6
Age • 24
Vitals • 6-foot-6, 229 pounds
Stats • 12.8 pts, 3.3 reb, 1.7 ast, 40.7 FG, 81.1 FT, 32.2 3-pt
Career • 8.3 pts, 2.2 reb, 1.3 ast, 42.7 FG, 78.5 FT, 33.3 3-pt
Draft • No. 34 overall pick by Jazz in 2005
High school • Skyline (Dallas)
Jazz forward C.J. Miles is running himself into shape during the NBA lockout. He recently sprinted along the track at Skyline High School in Salt Lake City.
Miles has worked out with Jazz forward Paul Millsap and former Utah guard Ronnie Price during the past two weeks, as the trio have participated in pick-up games at a local gym.
Miles recently spoke with the Jazz's Gordon Hayward and Jeremy Evans about coordinating workouts this month in Salt Lake City. "As it gets closer to the time that we would regularly start, if guys don't go overseas, what we'll do is try to get guys back in town," Miles said.